The Courier-Mail

KILLING SUSPECT SLIPPED THE NET Police paperwork bungle allowed wanted man to party on

E-currency now target

- CHARLES MIRANDA

AUSTRALIAN police missed their chance to arrest one of the nation’s most wanted men when a bureaucrat­ic bungle forced police to watch as he partied for months with drugs and prostitute­s before an arrest warrant was drawn up.

The Courier-Mail can reveal murder suspect Bogdan Cuic fled Brisbane for Thailand in 2012, three hours after the murder of Jei Jack Lee. He then moved to Belgrade in Serbia and later across the border to Montenegro.

Australian police asked police in Montenegro to put him under surveillan­ce.

They watched as Cuic travelled from Podgorica to the resort town of Bar and then settled in the picturesqu­e village of Dobra Voda, where he had relatives. He then moved to the Adriatic Sea resort town of Budva where he was joined by three Australian men whose families were from the region, and fellow members of Brisbane’s Bandidos outlaw motorcycle gang.

For the next five months he partied hard at local nightspots with prostitute­s and people known to police. Other Australian criminals were identified as they arrived for weekends of gambling.

Montenegro authoritie­s asked Australian counterpar­ts when they should make arrests but were asked to stand down and monitor only, as a bureaucrat­ic bungle by Queensland police and justice officers resulted in incorrect paperwork being prepared.

“We had them under surveillan­ce for ... five months but the paperwork from Brisbane never came,” one police officer said. “After eight months, still nothing. The papers never arrived and these guys were s spending 2000- 3000 a night with parties, cocaine, everything, living the high life.”

The friends eventually ret turned to Australia and Cuic, described by police as a person of interest and wanted for questionin­g, is believed to have travelled to Belgrade.

Lee, 22, was shot in the head at a shopping centre at Eight Mile Plains three years ago after apparently going to meet someone to buy $17,000 worth of cocaine. No one has been arrested over the killing.

Cuic’s family deny he was involved in any wrongdoing.

A Queensland Police Service spokespers­on said: “The investigat­ion has been complex in nature and conducted over many months. Once an arrest warrant was obtained by investigat­ors the appropriat­e official procedures were followed without delay.” THE days of huge money laundering operations are waning with virtual currencies now favoured by criminals to hide profits of drug smuggling and other crimes.

According to Europe’s police agency Europol, currencies such as Bitcoin (pictured) were now used heavily by transnatio­nal criminals for “anonymity or pseudonymi­ty and the rapid and irreversib­le transfers of funds”.

Australian law enforcers are aware of the criminal use of e-wallets and cyber-currency.

The ease of moving money virtually undetected has created “entreprene­ur” criminals not needing the support base of larger operations.

“Economic disparity and declining prosperity in EU member states has the potential to create a climate rife for exploitati­on by organised crime groups,” Europol concluded in a report.

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 ??  ?? ESCAPE: Bogdan Cuic partiesti withih mates (main); Jei Jack Lee (inset left); and Dobra Voda.d
ESCAPE: Bogdan Cuic partiesti withih mates (main); Jei Jack Lee (inset left); and Dobra Voda.d
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