A Kiwi media personality linked to the Comancheros gang has been granted suppression until his criminal charges are determined to prevent his career being "permanently ruined".
The High Court decision, released to the Herald, comes after the accused media man raised fears his employer will discard him and no other employer in the industry will touch him. While the judge who granted suppression says those with public profiles "are in a different position" to the average person if they are named while facing criminal allegations.
The 37-year-old media personality was charged and has denied he was part of the Comanchero Motorcycle Gang or jointly laundered nearly $300,000 after his arrest in a series of police raids last April.
His argument for continued name suppression, Justice Grant Powell said, was a "very simple proposition".
"That publication of his name will very likely mean the end of his chosen career, even if he is ultimately found not guilty of the charges he faces."
A senior employee at the media personality's workplace also echoed the concerns in an affidavit to the court.
"[The media company] will not risk any damage to its brand or any loss of revenue," he said.
"Accordingly, because of a concern regarding public, sponsor and or advertising pushback or withdrawal, that would be expected to follow publication of [the accused's] name ... let alone with the alleged association with the Comancheros and the specific and more serious charges the members of that group who are charged face, [the company] would be obliged to cancel under the contract and would do so."
The affidavit also said the media man's "reputation would be permanently damaged by any publication".
"He would be tarnished by the allegation alone, even if he was later found not guilty ... [publication] would leave him out of work, unemployable and unlikely to be able to recover his career."
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In his decision, Justice Powell said it was "entirely understandable" any employer would try to get as much benefit as possible from its "talent" until it was no longer tenable.
"The combined evidence before the court is that if [the media man's] employer takes the first protective step following publication of [his] name, no other employer within the industry is going to want to touch him.
"In the very small world of the New Zealand media, that is going to mean there is a very real risk [he] is not going to be able to ever be employed again in the industry, regardless of whether he is ultimately found not guilty."
Justice Powell compared the situation to the case of a high-profile Kiwi sportsman seeking permanent name suppression after being linked to an international drug conspiracy.
"The person in that case was a person in a very similar position to [the media man] in that he too had developed a personal brand identity."
He said the media man, sportsperson or professionals are "in a different position to the average person" facing allegations and forced to bear the normal consequences of publication. But, the judge added, the Court of Appeal has been clear not to treat them as being in a special category.
"Economic hardship is one thing but the total loss of a career regardless of whether a defendant is found guilty of an offence is another and I conclude ... that there is a real and appreciable risk of this consequence occurring [for the media man]," Justice Powell said.
The suppression order was extended until after the charges are determined to ensure the media man's career is "not permanently ruined".
An accountant who has been charged and linked to the gang also had his interim name suppression continued pending a challenge to the Court of Appeal.
Last week, the gang's vice president for the Auckland chapter Tyson Daniels and lawyer Andrew Simpson were both sent to prison for laundering Comanchero cash.
Auckland president Pasilika Naufahu and several others arrested in last year's raids, including a man in Sydney, have maintained their not guilty pleas and head towards a High Court trial in September.
More than 80 police officers were involved in the raids, which also led to about $4 million of assets being seized, including firearms and several luxury vehicles such as a Rolls-Royce Wraith and gold-plated Harley Davidson motorcycles.
Police have said they believe the gang was importing drugs into New Zealand and has laundered millions of dollars.
Investigators also said the Comancheros were assisted by notorious international drug syndicate the Sinaloa cartel, which was founded by imprisoned drug lord Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman.
The Sinaloa cartel is considered to be the largest drug trafficking organisation in the world.
In mid-2018, a Herald investigation revealed the growing influence of Mexican and South American cartels in New Zealand hoping to cash in on a highly profitable drug trade.
Since then, the US Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) has been granted permission by the US Congress to set up offices in Auckland and Wellington and target the cartels.
The Comancheros in Aotearoa are nicknamed the "501s" because of the "character grounds" section of the immigration law used to deport many of them from Australia.