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Qld magistrate asked to withdraw from case

AAP logoAAP 31/08/2016 Melissa Grant

A Queensland magistrate has been asked to excuse himself from a case involving two lawyers over comments about "dodgy Gold Coast lawyers".

Magistrate Noel Nunan is presiding over the committal hearing of Jason Murakami and Ron Behlau, formerly employed by Gold Coast firm Nyst Lawyers.

They are facing charges of attempting to pervert the course of justice, with Murakami also accused of conducting transactions to avoid reporting requirements.

Their hearing was close to wrapping up in the Brisbane Magistrates Court on Wednesday when Murakami's lawyer, Craig Eberhardt, applied for Mr Nunan to recuse himself from the case.

Mr Eberhardt made the application over Mr Nunan's ability to impartially decide the matter following comments he made while hearing submissions.

He said the magistrate had expressed the view that it was a case of "dodgy Gold Coast lawyers" using retainer agreements rather than putting money into trusts.

"You, in my submission, clearly expressed the view that there was something unlawful about the use of retainer agreements," Mr Eberhardt said.

"You expressed the view that this was simply a case of dodgy Gold Coast lawyers using retainer agreements, for dodgy purposes was the clear implication."

But Mr Nunan said: "I was merely being devil's advocate and it shouldn't be reported that I hold that view firmly that concerns dodgy Gold Coast practices."

Murakami and Behlau are in court over allegations of structuring, which involves banking cash sums of $10,000 or more in smaller amounts to avoid the transaction being reported to the federal government's special intelligence unit.

The Crime and Corruption Commission alleges this was done to obstruct criminal proceedings.

Murakami, a former partner at Nyst lawyers, is facing two counts of attempting to pervert the course of justice and three counts of conducting transactions to avoid reporting requirements relating to threshold transactions.

Behlau is facing one count of attempting to pervert the course of justice.

Mr Eberhardt is seeking a transcript of the comments made by Mr Nunan so he can make formal submissions.

The matter has been adjourned until October 12.

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