Police admitted yesterday that they paid thousands of dollars to an alleged people-smuggler in return for intelligence on the illegal transit of refugees from Indonesia to Australia. Kevin John Enniss, an Australian citizen living in West Timor, received A$25,000 (HK$101,000) over several months last year after approaching Australian authorities in Jakarta offering information on smugglers' whereabouts and the vessels they used. Police Commissioner Mick Keelty told a Senate committee in Canberra yesterday that information provided by Mr Enniss prevented 451 people from arriving in Australia. Mr Keelty said that represented an estimated saving of A$22.5 million in taxpayer funds which would otherwise have been spent on refugee processing and accommodation. 'He was a successful operative. In terms of value, it was a valid investment of Australian taxpayers' money,' he said. However, police will investigate claims Mr Enniss was engaged in people-smuggling operations of his own at the same time. At the weekend a current affairs programme on national television alleged Mr Enniss helped three or more boat-loads of asylum seekers land undetected on the coast of Western Australia. The programme claimed Australian authorities ignored warnings from the Indonesian Government 18 months ago that Mr Enniss was a leading people-smuggler. He was secretly filmed in a cafe in Dili, in East Timor, boasting to a client that he could tell the Australian navy where to patrol Australia's northern borders, making it easier for smugglers to land boat people in other areas. 'The Australian navy contacts me and I tell them where to patrol,' Mr Enniss said. He admitted he was involved in people-smuggling but only in his role as an informant. Meanwhile, Prime Minister John Howard tried to defuse a growing crisis over accusations his Government falsely claimed asylum seekers threw their children from a sinking Indonesian fishing vessel in October. Mr Howard released a document he received from a people-smuggling taskforce in his own department which he said stated clearly that asylum seekers threw children overboard.