The founder of the Australian Muslim Party is facing criminal charges after allegedly carrying out a lucrative fraud racket worth hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Political hopeful and western Sydney businessman Diaa Mohamed was arrested and charged with nine fraud offences in May following a lengthy and wide-ranging NSW Police probe.
The 35-year-old’s case is due on Wednesday to come before Parramatta Local Court, where an additional drug supply charge will be laid.
It is understood the charge stems from cocaine allegedly found at Mr Mohamed’s home during a search warrant. Police will also present him with further fraud charges.
Police will allege Mr Mohamed and four others set up fake businesses and applied for loans through a company that loaned funds to purchase business equipment.
The fraud allegedly ran into the hundreds of thousands of dollars.
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The investigation and subsequent charges were not revealed until now as detectives were still investigating other allegations.
It was picked up by investigators on Strike Force Nicolena, a wide-ranging investigation looking into large-scale money-laundering and drug supply.
However, the allegations Mr Mohamed and his co-accused – or “associates” – face have been described as being on the periphery of that Organised Crime Squad strike force.
Mr Mohamed has pleaded not guilty to all nine charges of dishonestly obtaining financial advantage by deception.
The nature of the relationship between Mr Mohamed and the other four people charged has been described as “associates”.
Asked about the allegations on Tuesday, Mr Mohamed said it was best for him not to comment at the moment.
“I would be happy to talk openly once it is resolved,” he told Fairfax Media.
The arrest was a blow to the Parramatta businessman’s political ambitions. It also came six months after he stood as the face of the freshly formed Australian Muslim Party and announced an intention to field senate candidates in all states and territories.
On announcing the party’s launch last November, Mr Mohamed told Fairfax Media the move was partly a reaction to six anti-Islamic parties contesting the election, the Australian Liberty Alliance, launched recently by controversial Dutch politician Geert Wilders, Rise Up and Nick Folkes’ Party for Freedom.
“There is a lot of parties out there that … specifically oppose Muslims yet muslims don’t have any official representation or anything like that,” he said in November.
“So I thought it would be beneficial for both Australians and Australian Muslims that they have a party and a platform to express themselves.”
An office space in Parramatta was leased and volunteers gathered in a bid to get the 500 members needed to register a party for the federal election.
However the AMP’s plan was put on hold as it didn’t make the register cut-off in time.
Mr Mohamed, a father-of-one, formerly headed an organisation called “MyPeace”.
The group, aimed at building relationships between Muslims and mainstream Australia, was behind controversial billboards in Sydney in 2011.
One claimed Jesus was a prophet of Islam while another read “Mary and prophet Jesus: read about their lives in the [Koran]”. The billboards were targeted by vandals and were the subject of an Advertising Standards Bureau investigation, which ruled the billboards did not vilify Christians.