Journalist 'seduced' by explosive story

·2-min read

A veteran journalist was naturally "astonished" and "hot to trot" upon hearing of a multi-million dollar tax fraud involving a key ATO figure, his blackmail trial has been told.

Former property developer Daniel Hausman says he needed Stephen Barrett to participate in the scheme without revealing anything until "the money's been paid and he gets his balance".

"After it's finished I don't give a f*** what you do," Hausman says he told Barrett, giving testimony in the NSW Supreme Court on Wednesday.

Defence lawyer Clive Steirn SC has argued Hausman and his co-conspirator Daniel Rostankovski manipulated the journalist in their ploy against alleged fraudsters Adam Cranston, Jason Onley and Dev Menon, by using his media status to threaten the trio.

The 63-year-old journalist has pleaded not guilty to blackmailing the three people allegedly behind the $105 million Plutus Payroll tax scandal.

At their last meeting at the Art Gallery of NSW cafe in May 2017, Hausman said he left Barrett seated at a table and went to the bathroom where he pulled out $2000 in cash, counting it and taking a picture.

"How you deal with a journo," he sent along with the photograph to his wife.

Hausman had bundled together a folder full of documents he handed to Barrett including an affidavit tendered in the Supreme Court divulging "the inner workings of the Plutus Payroll company," he said.

After Barrett pocketed the $2000 in cash he walked to the court to apply for docs, to "show he's a nosey journo", according to Hausman.

He then confirmed to another in texts "met with the journo, he needs one day to digest ... I juiced him up today, I promised him eight (thousand) on success."

Barrett was allegedly paid $10,000 to walk into a meeting in February involving Cranston and co, throwing down his business card and explaining his list of credentials while threatening to expose them.

Mr Steirn argued Barrett then left the meeting so the "different narrative" that he had not been told, about the $5 million blackmail, could then be explained.

As part of Hausman's plea deal he is giving evidence against a number of alleged offenders involved in the scheme that funnelled $105 million into the alleged masterminds accounts between March 2014 and May 2017.

Mr Steirn accused Hausman of throwing a lawyer and good friend of his under the bus he involved in the blackmail scheme by writing 17 days' worth of statements against him with the Australian Federal Police, to lower his own sentence.

"You wanted to extract the best deal to get the best sentence, so you exhausted yourself to making sure you implicated as many people as the AFP thought worthy of prosecution," he said.

"Sure, OK," Hausman responded.

Under cross-examination Hausman was accused of seducing Barrett with a sympathy story about "mum and dad" investors not paid what they were owed.

The trial continues.