HCCC’s Tony Kofkin heads new raid on IHRB

HCCC’s Tony Kofkin heads new raid on IHRB

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A second search warrant was executed at the Institute of Hair Regrowth & Beauty (IHRB) in Sydney after allegations that owner Mr Sam Cohen was breaching his Prohibition Orders.

HCCC's Director of Investigations, Mr Tony Kofkin, arriving at IHRB's office, with his colleague behind. Mr Kofkin served Kent Police for 17 years, four of which as Detective Chief Inspector within the Specialist Crime Operations at CID. Mr Kofkin was involved with IHRB's first raid.

HCCC’s Director of Investigations, Mr Tony Kofkin, arriving at IHRB’s office, with his colleague behind. Mr Kofkin served Kent Police for 17 years, four of which as Detective Chief Inspector within Specialist Crime Operations at CID. Mr Kofkin was involved with IHRB’s first raid.

Mr Tony Kofkin, the Director of Investigations at the Health Care Complaints Commission (HCCC), along with four of his investigators, plus two computer forensics experts and an investigator from the Department of Fair Trading (eight people in total) all converged on Renwick Street Leichhardt on Thursday 24 July, armed with a Search Warrant to seize records, files, data, and bottles of hair-regrowth products suspected to form part of the hair-regrowth formula which IHRB sells as part of its $4,900 annual treatment.

This is the second such raid by HCCC on IHRB. The first raid took place at IHRB’s Pitt Street address in 2010, where Police, HCCC, and Pharmaceutical Services Unit investigators netted large quantities of Scheduled medications. After that six-month investigation, HCCC’s Commissioner, Mr Kieran Pehm, issued IHRB with Permanent Prohibition Orders on 22 February 2011, banning IHRB from supplying or selling scheduled medications. At the time, Commissioner Pehm concluded that Mr Cohen had ‘…endangered the health and safety of his clients’. The findings of that investigation were that Mr Cohen:

1) Supplied Schedule 2 and Schedule 4 medications to clients contrary to the Poisons and Therapeutic Goods Act;

2) Supplied prescription medication to clients using medication obtained under the prescriptions for other clients;

3) Maintained bulk supplies of medications for dispensing to clients;

4) Endangered the health and safety of his clients by providing them with medications without adequate safeguards.

FORMER PHARMACIST DE-REGISTERED

IHRB’s pharmacist at the time was Mr Jonathan Fryar of Hunter Connect Pharmacy. Mr Fryar was de-registered on 10 May 2013 after the Pharmacy Tribunal of NSW found that the pharmacist had illegally supplied medications to IHRB.

CURRENT PHARMACIST UNDER INVESTIGATION

This current raid is connected with alleged misconduct by two more pharmacists: Messrs Elias Juanas and Roberto Mamblona from Elias Pharmacy at Fairfield. Both men have had Conditions imposed upon them, pending further investigation.

FORMER CLIENT

One of the complainants is Mr Jonar Nader who has run a four-year campaign to expose IHRB’s misconduct. He said, ‘After suffering at the hands of Mr Cohen, I launched a dedicated website to provide information to other victims of IHRB.

‘Men and women started to contact me about their sad experiences with Mr Cohen. Over the years, I received evidence sufficient to allege that Mr Cohen was breaching his Prohibition Orders. I assisted some victims to take their case to the Consumer Tribunal, where several lost their claim for $9,000 and $12,000, after, we allege, Mr Cohen and his solicitor both lied and tried to mislead the Tribunal. In July 2011, Mr Cohen was prosecuted by the Department of Fair Trading, and convicted at Parramatta Court for lying to the Tribunal (CTTT).’

TGA ISSUES REGULATION-9 ORDER

Jonar Nader added, ‘Although IHRB’s advertisements had been Sanctioned since 2007, Mr Cohen continued to ignore those Sanctions. New Sanctions were imposed in November 2011 after the Complaints Resolution Panel determined that IHRB’s ads were, “Unlawful, misleading, and unverified…” Again, IHRB ignored these Sanctions until May 2014 when the TGA stepped-in and issued IHRB with a Regulation 9 Order, forcing IHRB to stop its unlawful ads, and to publish retractions.’ Jonar Nader alleges that despite these measures, IHRB is still snubbing the TGA by breaching the Order in other ways.

HCCC COMMISSIONER PEHM & FAIR TRADING MINISTER MASON-COX

HCCC will now need to assess its haul and determine if Mr Cohen has indeed been breaching his Prohibition Orders. Under NSW law, breaching such orders is a criminal offence. Jonar Nader added, ‘Commissioner Kieran Pehm and his HCCC investigators would now need to inspect Mr Cohen’s files to see if IHRB has been operating in breach of the Orders. I allege that Mr Cohen was breaching his Orders from the first day they were issued. Three tests conducted at an accredited laboratory have returned positive results. Messrs Pehm and Kofkin, and Fair Trading Minister Matthew Mason-Cox cannot ignore such compelling evidence, which include pleas from former victims who contact the Departments, crying out for some justice after losing up to $12,000, and having their cases dismissed by the Consumer Tribunal after, it is alleged, Mr Cohen and his solicitor mislead the Tribunal with blatant lies.’

Below are some of the photos taken on 24 July 2014 in Renwick Street Leichhardt, as HCCC and its team executed the Search Warrant. Channel Seven News covered the event, along with Jonar Nader’s three-man camera crew. Keep an eye on this site for additional reports due to be published shortly.

Channel Seven’s first TV report covered the first raid at this link.

The Seven News report that aired at 6:30 pm on 24 July 2014 can be seen at this link.

The still photos below were taken by Jonar’s cameraman Mr Tim Engelbrecht.

HCCC raids IHRB montage

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