Indigenous leader on fraud charges over mining deal
A CAPE York aboriginal leader is facing fraud charges after allegedly siphoning cash from a secret $20m bauxite mining royalty deal.
In a dawn raid by police, Ankamuthi traditional owner Larry Woosup was yesterday arrested and charged with fraud by Cairns detectives.
The Cape York Alliance director allegedly pocketed $370,000 for a land use pact he struck with Gulf Alumina mining company without the knowledge of 75 other traditional owners on bauxite-rich country north of Weipa.
The Courier-Mail can confirm his arrest follows a complaint by the Ankamuthi people about missing funds after they won a Federal Court ruling in December last year in a bitter five-year-long stoush over mining royalties.
Mr Woosup rose to prominence as a vocal opponent of Australia's biggest native title claim for 14.6 million hectares of land and inland waters on Cape York in Queensland's Far North not already under native title.
Mr Woosup was yesterday bailed from the Cairns watch house with strict conditions he not contact any witnesses and not attend Cape York Land Council with his first court appearance set down for July 6.
In a separate police investigation, fellow Cape York Alliance leader Don De Busch, a Southern Kaanju leader, is also facing a probe over his alleged misuse of funds as chairman of Oyala-Thumotang Land Trust at Coen.
Traditional owners sent a petition to Environment Minister Leeanne Enoch about concerns taxpayer money was being "used as a personal slush fund" by Mr De Busch.
The Courier-Mail understands Ms Enoch, the state's first aboriginal Cabinet Minister who identifies with the Kaanju clan through her grandmother, obtained advice about a potential conflict of interest from the Integrity Commissioner.
"Queensland Police Service are investigating this matter,'' the Minister said.
"This matter has been handled operationally by the Department of Environment and Science."