Criminal lawyer Adam Magill talks to the media as he comes out of the police watch house after he was granted bail.
Criminal lawyer Adam Magill talks to the media as he comes out of the police watch house after he was granted bail.

He’s represented a rogue’s gallery of crooks

HIGH-profile lawyer Adam Magill says his law firm is "first cab off the rank" in a widening anti-corruption probe into allegations criminal kingpins are using legal "shopfronts" for money laundering.

Half a dozen criminal law practices, real estate agents and accountants in southeast Queensland are under covert surveillance in a dragnet by the state's Crime and Corruption Commission.

The CCC launched Operation Stockade 18 months ago to investigate fraud and alleged money laundering links between organised crime and the professional services sector.

"It might not be shakedown of the entire legal fraternity but criminal defence lawyers are more exposed because of our clientele,'' said Mr Magill, who is out on bail on five charges.

"We're in a high-risk category because of the sort of people we represent.

"Lots of our clients are good people who make silly mistakes, some are career criminals, and some are outright evil… we represent many of the baddest crooks.

"It makes sense we'd come on the radar. But it has cast a dark cloud over the legal industry and is reverberating throughout the state.

"It appears our law firm is first cab off the rank.''

Mr Magill, 47, often appears in front of TV cameras outside court, representing a rogue's gallery of bikie bosses, gangsters and murderers.

A partner in Brisbane law firm Lawler Magill, a restaurateur and property developer, he told how he had undergone psychiatric treatment because of the stress of his legal work, business dealings and pressure from the CCC probe.

"It has been two years and it has taken a very heavy toll on me personally, and it'll probably be another three years before this goes through court,'' he said.

"I had a mental breakdown because of it, I had to see a shrink, but with the help of my family I've come good."

It is understood the CCC used its coercive powers of a star chamber hearing and the threat of jail to compel about 150 individuals to give evidence.

"It's the world's worst best-kept secret,'' Mr Magill said.

"These coercive hearings are supposed to be done in secret, but the entire Brisbane legal fraternity and non-CCC police all knew who was going down there and what they were saying.''

He plans to contest the CCC charges of fraud and money laundering, as five other co-accused face similar charges from Operation Stockade.

"I know 90 per cent of all criminal lawyers in the southeast region, and I don't know of any business being used as a shopfront or a shield for money laundering," he said.