Monday 12 December 2011

Police arrest fugitive public servant

Fugutive public servant Joel Barlow's three days on the run have ended, after the man wanted for what is suspected to be Queensland's biggest swindle of public funds was taken in custody overnight.

It is believed he was arrested by police at a home in the fashionable Brisbane suburb of New Farm, near to the $5.6 million apartment that was seized, along with luxury cars, expensive art and bank account funds as alleged proceeds of crime.The 36-year-old Queensland Health bureaucrat has been on the run since the alleged fraud was uncovered last Thursday and Premier Anna Bligh went public with concern that it was the biggest theft of funds in the history of the state's public administration.

Ms Bligh has alleged that New Zealand-born and raised Barlow, also known as Hohepa Morhu-Barlow, diverted funding for charities and non-profit organisations to his own accounts, possibly by forging the signature of a more senior manager. She said yesterday an estimated $12 million in Barlow's assets had been identified and seized or frozen by the police; up to $16 million could have gone missing in the time he managed the finance division of Queensland Health's community services branch.

Barlow was being questioned by detectives this morning, and the Queensland Police Service insisted there was no further information.Police sources had earlier indicated that it was believed Barlow was in hiding with friends.His passport was among the documentation seized by police, after the alleged scam came to light last week.

Details have since emerged of his millionaire lifestyle and high profile on the social circuit in Brisbane, where for years he had passed himself off as a wealthy Tahitian prince who didn't need the money from his day job with Queensland Health.

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