Smoke screen: How two illicit tobacco stores, a Lambo and multiple fake identities helped build $23m empire

Two illicit tobacco stores, four legal name changes and multiple fake identities allegedly helped a Queensland businessman build an illegal $23 million empire in Brisbane’s bayside.

Nov 22, 2023, updated Nov 22, 2023
Seized items from a storage shed included tobacco (on table) and multiple vapes and casettes. (Image QCCC)

Seized items from a storage shed included tobacco (on table) and multiple vapes and casettes. (Image QCCC)

The Lamborghini-driving Queensland businessman allegedly amassed the $23million fortune in two years selling illicit tobacco while claiming the disability pension and living in a housing commission home, court documents reveal.

Oliver Bailey allegedly deposited around $5million through various bank accounts and attained $3million in assets including the purchase of five homes using false identities.

Authorities allege the money generated from Bailey’s two illicit tobacco stores on Brisbane’s bayside made millions and enabled him to make cash purchases for luxury items including a $320,000 Lamborghini Urus SUV.

Bailey was a target in Operation Aberdeen, a six-month covert investigation into money laundering by Queensland’s criminal watchdog.

The Crime and Corruption Commission’s case against Bailey is detailed in his application for bail to the Brisbane Supreme Court. He is facing 55 charges, including fraud-related offences which carry a maximum of 20 years jail.

The 37-year-old legally changed his name three times before changing it to Oliver Bailey through Queensland’s Births, Deaths and Marriages (BDM). He allegedly used some of those names to create false identities to open bank accounts.

Court documents reveal between May and December 2020 he allegedly made two different applications to change his name to his current identity Oliver Bailey with BDM. The first application was allegedly made using the name and birthdate of Mr Bailey’s brother.  .

The BDM issued a Change of Name Certificate to Oliver Bailey on May 20, 2020 with CCC investigators alleging it was used to create a Queensland Driver’s Licence. Bailey allegedly then used the Queensland license to obtain Northern Territory driver’s licence which was used as supporting identification to open several bank accounts.

He has been charged over using the licence with his alleged dishonesty yielding “at least $100,000 namely in excess of $1, 600,000” between 2022 and 2023.

“The application was signed and dated 12th day of May 2020. This form was witnessed by (Commissioner of Declaration) …. It was not possible for (brother) to have signed this form in front of (Commissioner of Declaration). This is because it has been established with the Department of Home Affairs that (brother) was not in Australia on this date.

“It has been identified that on the 4th of December 2020, Bailey also changed his name from Mohammad Shahid Waeli to Oliver Bailey. This was the fourth time Bailey had changed his name with the BDM.

“The documents for this change have been obtained and reviewed and it has been identified that the reasons prescribed for the name changes from (brother) to Bailey and from Walei to Bailey were almost identical,’’  the brief of evidence alleges.

There is no suggestion the Commissioner of Declarations is involved in any wrongdoing.

Bailey is being investigated for further offences relating to money laundering and possibly interfering with witnesses. It is  alleged he turned up at the workplace of the previous owner of the Lamborghini, asking to re-sign sale documents, and contacted a female witness to delete information from his WhatsApp account.

Some of the more than $840,000 in cash seized from one of Bailey’s storage facilities. (Image QCCC).

The CCC’s Operation Aberdeen worked in conjunction with Australian Border Force, Australian Tax Office, Queensland Police and health authorities.

Bailey has been in custody since his arrest on August 29, with a series of raids on storage sheds allegedly rented by him under false names. His five properties and Woodridge housing commission unit, all south of Brisbane, were also raided.

Authorities found $840,000 cash as well as a number of false identification documents of names used to open several bank accounts which have now been frozen.

“Given that the applicant has five properties in his name and there were five cars seized during the searches, coupled with designer clothing and accessories, there is a clearly significant amount of unexplained wealth – especially since the applicant was on the disability pension and living in a housing commission property,’’ the Crown alleged.

“Significant quantities of illicit tobacco and vapes were also located in the searches – approximately 8,000,000 illicit cigarettes and a further 3,000 kilograms of loose tobacco, coming in at an estimated $13,000,000 in tax excise that the applicant has allegedly evaded …the applicant was certainly living a wealthy lifestyle,’’ the Crown alleged.

Health authorities also seized illicit vapes with a street value of around $1.3million.

Police seize some of the contraband from a storage shed allegedly operated by Oliver Bailey (Image: QCCC)


In their objection to bail, the Crown alleged Bailey, a former Iraqi army intelligence officer, had also allegedly been less than truthful with Australian authorities.

“The applicant has numerous other false identities both in Queensland and interstate, and he is a person of interest to the Australian Border Force…he has demonstrated when intercepted by police he would utilise other people’s identities in an effort to avoid identification of himself or avoid possible punishment (infringement notices).’’

Queensland Police have provided body cam footage of Mr Bailey at several traffic stops allegedly providing licenses in different fake and stolen identities, including a Greek passport. His licence has been suspended for high speed offences.

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The Crown opposed Bailey’s bail, submitting he was an “unacceptable risk” of either committing further offences, interfering with witnesses or the administration of justice.

In his affidavit to the court, Bailey denied the allegations saying he was an employee of tobacco shops but never an owner.

“I have been largely in the employ of my brother,’’ he stated. He also said he had no more than $229,000 in his bank accounts.

The Crown’s submission objecting to bail also includes a transcript documents of a recorded phone call from Bailey at Brisbane’s Arthur Gorrie Remand and Reception Centre on September 8 allegedly asking a friend to re-open his stores and “recommence the sale of illicit products”.

Bailey said he was born in Iraq, serving in the army as an intelligence officer between 2007 and 2010. He also received a letter of recommendation from the United States Army Intelligence for his work.

He said his work with both Australian and American armies in Iraq resulted in the “prosecution of dozens of criminals” but made him a target of terrorist groups including ISIL and AL Queda.

“I received many deaths threats during these years and this culminated in my father and brother being kidnapped, tortured, shot and killed by terrorists in 2010,’’ Bailey said.

“The terrorists then subsequently attacked our family home and drove our family members out. As a result, I was forced to leave Iraq and seek refuge in another country,’’ he said. He eventually obtained refugee status in Australia in 2011.

Bailey said he suffers from mental health issues due to his experiences in Iraq. He said he has been diagnosed with schizophrenia, anxiety, depression and bipolar affective disorder. He said he constantly fears for his safety and feels isolated from the people he knows while on remand in Brisbane.

He denied interfering with witnesses and using different identities. “These applications may have been online applications which could have been completed by any person accessing the internet, even if they were offshore,’’ he said in his bail application.

Bailey said he would comply with any bail conditions and his defence supplied supporting affidavits from friends with offers of employment and surety.

Bailey’s bail application was refused.




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