‘King of Steel’ one of three Australians arrested in Serbia over alleged $500m cocaine shipment
The director of a livestock saleyard in Victoria’s west has confirmed his business partner is one of three Australian men arrested in Serbia in connection with an alleged cocaine shipment.
Businessman Rohan Arnold, 43, was arrested with two others at a Belgrade hotel after police stormed the lobby with their weapons drawn yesterday.
Brendan Abbey and Mr Arnold were due to open the $16 million Western Victorian Livestock Exchange together in Mortlake on Monday.
“We’re just in amazement — I’m dealing with it right now it’s come as a complete shock to us,” said Mr Abbey.
The saleyards are tipped to be the most modern in Australia, with stock agents as far as the Northern Territory expected to bring cattle to the facility’s first sale in three days.
“We’ve just had an emergency meeting, and we’ve had a phone hook up and its all systems, it’s still going ahead,” Mr Abbey said.
Serbian media outlets have posted images of Rohan Arnold, calling him the ‘Australian king of steel’.
Belgrade police said the arrests yesterday were in connection with a 1,280kg cocaine shipment seized in Sydney last year, which had a street value of half a billion dollars.
They’ve released a video of the men’s dramatic arrest in Belgrade — which shows armed police pinning the men down and hand-cuffing them face-down.
A bag filled with foreign currency banknotes from Europe, Australia, China, Thailand, Singapore and Vietnam also was shown, and police said the arrests were made during a “money handover”.
A gun was also found.
Brendan Abbey said he last spoke to his business partner on Sunday.
” No [I never suspected anything. I was just talking to one of our shareholders, we just can’t — it’s unbelievable.”
Rohan Arnold told him he was going away for the week, and would be back before the saleyard opening.
He said Mr Arnold’s wife sent a text message to his wife this morning at 6am.
Brendan Abbey says there’s no connection between the alleged shipment and the saleyards.
He says he’s not worried about there being any financial repercussions for the livestock exchange.
“He’s one of nine shareholders it’s not going to affect anything here, everyone is still supporting it – we’ll still have our first sale on Monday.”
Mr Arnold’s career in the steeling manufacturing industry has spanned more than 20 years.