Cop in murder probe 'threat'
- Mark Hawthorne
- September 21, 2008
Ron Dolliver, left, and Tony Langdon in Perth in November last year.
A VICTORIAN police officer has been accused of threatening two private detectives hired to tail a high-profile millionaire investor wanted for questioning over the assassination-style murder of a South African mining magnate.
The Victoria Police Ethical Standards Department is investigating claims that Senior Sergeant Anthony Langdon, of Flemington police, warned two private detectives in Perth to drop their inquiries into 73-year-old investor John Stratton, who was allegedly involved in the murder of gold billionaire Brett Kebble in Johannesburg in 2005.
Following Australian Federal Police investigations into organisedcrime figures and their involvement in the sharemarket, Victoria Police are also examining Langdon's relationships with a number of colourful characters with links to known crime figures.
These include Melbourne trader Leo ''The Gun'' Khouri,
who has made millions trading shares in speculative mining
and biotechnology stocks. The Sunday Age has been
told that Mr Khouri - a long-time associate of Mr Stratton -
instructed Senior Sergeant Langdon to ''warn off'' the
detectives who were carrying out surveillance on the Perth investor on behalf of Mr Kebble's family.
One of the investigators who says he was threatened by Senior Sergeant Langdon, former Tasmanian police officer Ron Dolliver, has handed Victoria Police a statutory declaration detailing his two meetings with the policeman in November last year.
In that statement, which has been obtained by The Sunday Age, Mr Dolliver describes Senior Sergeant Langdon as ''menacing''.
Mr Dolliver's declaration, which was provided to Ethical Standards earlier this month, states: ''He (Langdon) said, 'We will take any action that is necessary to stop your investigation and we can cause a lot of problems for you and even go to the point of bankrupting you and your company'. He placed the emphasis on the word 'any'. I felt somewhat threatened and intimidated.''
Senior Sergeant Langdon, 44, who is on extended unpaid leave from Victoria Police, has recently become a director of Mr Khouri's private investment company, Gun Capital Management. He is also a director of biotechnology company, BioProspect, of which Gun Capital is a major shareholder. The officer is even listed as living at Mr Khouri's home address in Melbourne in official documents.
During his leave of absence, Senior Sergeant Langdon has worked as a security consultant for Range Resources, an oil exploration company in which Mr Khouri is an investor and over which he exerts influence.
A Victoria Police source said Senior Sergeant Langdon had been told he should resign: ''He's been told to choose between being a police officer or a businessman.''
Mr Khouri's links with Mr Stratton go back years. They have extensive business dealings with listed mining companies that operated out of the same premises in Perth-at 34 Parliament Place.
Mr Stratton was working in South Africa in September 2005 when his business associate, Brett Kebble, the head of a gold empire worth more than $7 billion, was gunned down near his Johannesburg home.
Mr Kebble's Mercedes-Benz was stopped and he was shot seven times at close range - in the head, neck and arm - with low-velocity bullets used by assassins.
The murder is still under investigation by South Africa's elite crime fighting agency, the Scorpions Taskforce. Mr Stratton strenuously denies having any involvement in the murder of Kebble, his former business partner in a range of mining projects in Africa. He is adamant that no charges have been laid.
The Scorpions' head of special national projects, Andrew Leask, told The Sunday Age that ''a warrant for the arrest of John Stratton was issued by the Johannesburg magistrate on November 15, 2006 . . with regard to charges of murder and conspiracy to commit murder''.
However, Mr Stratton's South African lawyers last night insisted that no warrant had ever been issued for their client's arrest.
Mr Dolliver's company, In Depth Investigations, was hired by South African investigator Paul O'Sullivan to trail Mr Stratton for a 10-day period in November last year.
Mr O'Sullivan has been tracking Mr Stratton for three years on behalf of Mr Kebble's father, Roger, to assist with his possible extradition to Africa to face questioning over the murder.
In his declaration to Victoria Police, Mr Dolliver said that after he and his partner, Robert Colton, were hired by Mr O'Sullivan, Senior Sergeant Langdon phoned them on November 13 last year.
''(Langdon) said 'I represent John Stratton and would like a meeting with you','' Mr Dolliver said.
Dolliver and Langdon met the next day at Perth's 4 U Cafe. ''A male person attended the cafe . . . and introduced himself as Tony Langdon,'' Mr Dolliver states.
''I thought it was strange that he was wearing an oversized shirt and slouched in the seat. It appeared that he was trying to hide something under his shirt, such as either a firearm, or recording device.
''Langdon said, 'I am acting on behalf of John Stratton and we are concerned about the publicity Stratton is receiving. He went on to say words to the effect that 'persons had been approached about a matter which is being played out in South Africa and there is no reason for anything to occur here'.''
Shortly before his death, it emerged that Mr Kebble was part of a plot to strip three South African mining companies - Randgold, Western Areas and JCI - of shares and that an estimated $400 million had been plundered.
There were later allegations that Mr Kebble and his cronies bribed senior police officials, including that they paid $US1 million to the commissioner of the South African police, Jacob ''Jackie'' Selebi-who later became president of Interpol.
The Scorpions believe that Mr Stratton was one of the men involved in the alleged $400 million plunder and later ordered Mr Kebble's murder, on the grounds that the billionaire had ''found God'' and wanted to confess all.
According to Victoria Police, Senior Sergeant Langdon was on 12 months' leave from the force when he acted on behalf of Mr Stratton to threaten the private detectives in Perth.
According to Mr Stratton's spokesman, Chris Codrington, Mr Khouri discussed Stratton's problems with Senior Sergeant Langdon and ''when Langdon heard of the problems John was having, he offered to help out''.
''(Langdon) was never employed by John (Stratton) and there were never any instructions for him to threaten the investigators,'' he said.
Mr Codrington said he had met Senior Sergeant Langdon, and knew he was a police officer. ''He's a really friendly bloke,'' he said. ''But his business relationship, as far as I'm aware, is with Leo Khouri not John Stratton.''
Before taking leave, Senior Sergeant Langdon was based at Flemington and participated in Victoria Police-operated integration projects with the Somali community.
In April last year, the officer was feted by Police Minister Bob Cameron for his role in organising a trip for 16 Somali students to the Kokoda Trail. Mr Cameron also thanked the ''generous corporations that were sponsoring the trip''. The key sponsor was Range Resources, which donated $50,000 towards the cost of the trip.
In his role with Range Resources, Senior Sergeant
Langdon, working with former Victoria Police officer Joe
Obeid, performed a security assessment of its oil project in
Puntland, Somalia. Obeid, previously of Brunswick police,
was dismissed from the force in 1998 after being found
guilty of five of seven disciplinary charges made against him.
In the past two months, Ethical Standards have been examining Senior Sergeant Langdon's business dealings with Mr Khouri. Following Senior Sergeant Langdon's appointment as a director of Gun Capital, Mr Khouri, who is believed to be overseas, pushed to have the officer appointed to the board of biotechnology company BioProspect.
BioProspect executive chairman Steve Morrow said the challenge from Mr Khouri came when the board refused to buy shares in listed company Solagran - another company Mr Khouri is an investor in and is a consultant to.
A deal was eventually struck with Mr Khouri, and Senior Sergeant Langdon became a director - along with two Solagran directors, Peter Stedwell and Peter Pellegrino.
When The Sunday Age called Senior Sergeant Langdon on Friday, he said: ''I've been reading your stories with interest, my friend. I've got no interest in what you've got to say. I have got no comment to make.''