Top cop lifts lid on bikie extortion
A FORMER top cop has lifted the lid on the "rife" extortion by Gold Coast outlaw motorcycle gang stand-over men during the height of the bikie war.
Jim Keogh said the extortion attempts were so severe and entrenched at the Broadbeach dining strip that one restaurateur took his own life.
Reflecting on the lead up to the infamous Broadbeach brawl in 2013, Mr Keogh claimed up to 70 per cent of the strip was subjected to extortion.
"In simplest of terms they (bikies) would come in … demand free drinks, and cause a menace until either one of two deals were struck - a continued payment to them or a share of the business," Mr Keogh said.
"They were very legitimate, decent restaurants and these bikies knew that they weren't the desired clientele for that premises, but getting rid of them had to come at a price."
Mr Keogh said the restaurateurs "could see that it was a battle they weren't going to win … so they paid the money".
"Some of them came clean (to police) and said we are paying them money.
"But of course they feared for their life and feared for their safety and that of their family as well. So we had to back up our commitment to them, we had to be there.
"In my time I saw no legitimate business interest from a bikie at Broadbeach. Not to say that there wasn't, but in my time I saw none. But I did see clear evidence of the stand-over and the extortion."
He said at the time the Finks ruled the Surfers Paradise nightclub scene, while Broadbeach was Bandidos territory.
Mr Keogh said the Hells Angels at the time was looking to exploit development between Nobby Beach and Burleigh Heads.
He said the Bandidos were benefiting from the finance off the back of extortion and the booming drug trade.
Mr Keogh said money exchanged varied in amounts, up to $5000. He said no formal complaints were ever made out of fear.
Following the Broadbeach brawl in 2013, in which the Finks and Bandidos clashed at the Aura Tapas and Lounge Bar in front of horrified diners, tough new bikie legislation was introduced.
Mr Keogh said the new laws, plus proactive "walk throughs" of venues cleaned up the streets.
But The Aztec Broadbeach owner Glen Day said he had his suspicions back then, but couldn't say whether it was still happening.
"I've never experienced any problems with the bikies or been approached by them at all," he said. "I do hear rumours that they did have money invested in various restaurants in the area. But they needed to be cleaned out of course, because they were giving the place a bad name."
South East Region MOCS Acting Detective Inspector Ian Galpin said extortion was a common tactic used by outlaw motorcycle gangs.
However, he said while "every now and again something will come up" there were no specific allegations of extortion attempts at Broadbeach.
>> Anyone with any information is urged to contact Police Link or Crime Stoppers.
Originally published as Top cop lifts lid on bikie extortion