A Cape York man who allegedly struck a multi-million-dollar deal with a mining company behind the backs of other traditional owners and siphoned off cash for his own use has appeared in a Far North Queensland court.   

Key points:

  • Larry Joe Woosup has pleaded not guilty to two counts of fraud at the District Court in Cairns
  • Mr Woosup is accused of striking a deal with a mining company, without the consent of other traditional owners
  • Crown prosecution alleges he stole hundreds of thousands of dollars for his personal use

Ankamuthi man Larry Joe Woosup is on trial in the District Court in Cairns charged with two counts of fraud relating to an alleged deal he struck with Gulf Alumina Limited, without the consent of 75 other traditional owners.

He has pleaded not guilty to both charges, in which it is alleged he pocketed hundreds of thousands of dollars.

The Bauxite Hills mine in Cape York, owned by Metro Mining which took over Gulf Alumina in 2016

Mr Woosup is alleged to have struck a deal with Cape Alumina over the mining of bauxite on native title land in western Cape York. (Supplied: Metro Mining)

On day one of the five-day trial, Crown prosecutor Claudia Georgouras told the court the mining deal concerned a significant parcel of native title land belonging to the Ankamuthi people in western Cape York.

“This case is about Mr Woosup using his position as a traditional owner of the land to sign an agreement allowing a mining company, Gulf Alumina, to come and mine on traditional land,” Ms Georgouras said.

“That agreement allowed the mining company to come and mine on their land and it meant that the mining company had to pay royalties to the community.”

Accused ‘withdrew $110,000 in cash’ 

Ms Georgouras told the court negotiations between Gulf Alumina and the community stalled in 2010 when a royalties agreement could not be reached.

Mr Woosup allegedly recommenced negotiations with the mining company in May 2013 without the knowledge of other traditional owners and in December 2013 signed an agreement with Gulf Alumina, allowing them to mine the land.

Ms Georgouras told the court Mr Woosup set up a trust account with the Commonwealth Bank with an overdraft facility of $110,000, before any mining royalties had been paid.

She said he withdrew the entire amount in cash for personal use.

He later opened another trust account with the Queensland Country Credit Union, banked a Gulf Alumina cheque for $95,000 and again withdrew the entire amount in cash.

Mr Woosup, who is on bail, was in court with family. 

The trial, before Judge Dean Morzone, is expected to hear from more than a dozen witnesses. 

Posted , updated 

Indigenous man on trial over alleged mining deal without consent of other traditional owners
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