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Police check bribery report
By Marian Carroll in Denpasar - September 02, 2005

POLICE in Bali are investigating a bizarre bribery attempt relating to drug charges against Australian model Michelle Leslie. An Indonesian man who said he was Bali police chief General I Made Mangku Pastika is understood to have rung the Australian consulate on August 24, demanding 125 million rupiah ($15,800) in return for dropping drug charges against Ms Leslie.

"Would you like to handle this matter under the table?" the man is understood to have told Australia's consul-general in Bali, Brent Hall.

The man demanded 75 million rupiah to arrange a meeting about the issue, and 125 million to make Ms Leslie's case "go away".

He is also understood to have called the consulate on another occasion, posing as General Pastika's adjutant, Brigadier Wayan.

Australia's Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) confirmed the bribery attempt, which was reported to General Pastika today.

Ms Leslie had been told of the approach, a DFAT spokeswoman said.

"She confirmed to consular officials she had no knowledge of the incident, and endorsed the consul-general's response of reporting it immediately to the Bali police," the spokeswoman said.

General Pastika said Indonesian police were investigating the case and were preparing a trap for the conman.

There was no suggestion Ms Leslie's legal team or family was involved, he said.

Lawyers for the Adelaide-born model denied involvement in attempted bribery. "On behalf of her Australian representatives and the Indonesian defence team, we clearly state that no offer to assist other than in a lawful manner has been made or received by us," spokesman Sean Mulcahy said.

"Any suggestions to the contrary are inflammatory and highly offensive to all those involved in every aspect of this case."

Ms Leslie, 24, is facing up to 15 years in prison for drug possession after police arrested her at a Bali dance party on August 20, allegedly with two ecstasy tablets in her bag.

Blood and urine samples taken when she was arrested have tested positive to amphetamines.

General Pastika said police had taped a telephone conversation in Indonesian between the accused man and another Indonesian, in which the conman had tried to take advantage of Ms Leslie's predicament.

"They are making conversation about the promise to meet and to transfer money, that's it, in return for approaching me," General Pastika said.

He would not reveal how the conversation came to be taped.

However, he said the conman had tried to cheat other prisoners several times before.

"Some people are trying to use my name, not only in this case but also in other cases," General Pastika said.

"This is all outsiders wanting to fish in the black water."

General Pastika meanwhile rejected Bali media reports that Ms Leslie's lawyers had tried to pay a bribe of more than 5 billion rupiah to have the model freed.

"They are wrong," he said before issuing a general warning against bribery.

"I would like to tell anybody that bribery is not the good thing to settle this case. It won't work."

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