Brothers lose Canberra brothel fire claim

Two brothers whose Canberra brothel was shut down by a fire have lost their bid to make their insurer pay, with a court finding they failed to disclose their links to the Comancheros.

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Baris and Fidel Tukel’s company Stealth Enterprises launched legal action against insurer Calliden after it would not pay out a claim against the fire at The Gentlemen’s Club in Mitchell on New Year’s Day, 2012.

On Thursday, the Supreme Court sided with Calliden, saying the adult-industry insurer has no liability as the brothers had failed to disclose their association with the bikie gang.

The court heard the fire caused $500,000 in damage after it ripped through the brothel, which had to close down.

It came almost a year after Baris Tukel, the sole director of Stealth Enterprises, became a “Sergeant” in the bikie gang.

The brothers argued that if Calliden succeeded in not accepting liability, the effect was that “if you belong to a bikie gang, you can’t get any type of insurance”.

They also submitted that “a reasonable person” would not know that membership of a bikie gang was relevant to an insurer such as Calliden, which was prepared to cover brothels.

Calliden, the court heard, was one of the few insurers in the adult industry – a fact reflected in its premiums.

Their Business Pack Adult Industry Insurance policy was a scheme tailored for these businesses, excluding certain things from coverage, such as communicable diseases.

Justice Monika Schmidt said she was satisfied that if the brothers’ membership of the Comancheros had been disclosed, Calliden would not have insured them.

She said it was also common knowledge by 2010 that bikies had been involved in firebombing premises, drive-by shootings and bombings.

“It cannot be doubted that Stealth Enterprises knew that Fidel and Baris Tukel’s membership of the Comancheros was relevant to Calliden’s decisions, first to insure its brothel in 2010 and second to renew the policy in 2011,” Justice Schmidt said.

She ordered Stealth Enterprises pay the insurer’s costs.