What are some recent examples of the Australian Federal Police investigating money laundering cases in Australia?

Author: Phillip Gibson, Accredited Specialist Criminal Law and Criminal Defence Lawyer.

The Australian Federal Police (AFP) is one of the key Commonwealth authorities that investigates money laundering. Let’s take a look at a couple of operations the AFP is involved in.

What is Operation Zanella?Money Laundering Case Folder

Operation Zanella sees the AFP work closely with domestic and international partners to actively target transnational money laundering networks that provide remittance services to transnational organised crime groups impacting Australia. The key focus of this operation is narcotics.

In the 2013-2014 financial year, this operation led to the seizure of $2 million cash, 716kg of cocaine, and assets valued at $150,000. In March 2016, Operation Zanella investigations led to two Chinese nationals being arrested. The AFP released a media report on the incident:

Police allege the two men were involved in collecting and moving illegal funds when they were arrested in Sydney’s west on March 1.

According to the AFP, $710,000 in cash was discovered during a search of the men’s vehicles and premises. Police also allegedly seized around 60kg of methamphetamine (also known as speed, ice or crank).

The Hong Kong nationals, aged 28 and 46, were charged with dealing in the proceeds of crime. The 46-year- old is also facing one count of possession of a commercial quantity of a border controlled drug.

The AFP released a media statement on the incident:

Australian Federal Police (AFP) officers have charged two Hong Kong nationals with dealing in the proceeds of crime after more than $700,000 was seized in Sydney yesterday.

Police investigations under the AFP’s long standing Operation Zanella into money laundering identified the two men, aged 46 and 28, allegedly involved in the collection and movement of illicit funds. Yesterday morning (Tuesday, 1 March 2016) AFP officers located the two men in separate vehicles in the vicinity of Homebush West and arrested them.

Search warrants were conducted on vehicles and premises connected to the two men. In the vehicle of the 46-year-old police seized three cartons containing approximately $700,000 of sealed Australian currency, a number of mobile phones and around 10 kilograms of a crystalline substance believed to be methamphetamine, concealed within a small suitcase. During a search of one of the premises, a further 50 kilograms of methamphetamine was seized together with approximately $10,000 in Australian currency.

Both men were charged with one count of dealing in the proceeds of crime ($100,000 or more) contrary to section 400.4 of the Criminal Code 1995. The 46-year-old was further charged with one count of possession of a commercial quantity of border controlled drugs, namely methamphetamine, pursuant to Section 307.5 of the Criminal Code 1995.

What is Operation Eligo?

Operation Eligo is a joint taskforce between the Australian Crime Commission (ACC) and the AFP. This operation specifically targets the use and exploitation of alternative remittance and informal value transfer systems by serious and organised crime groups. Organised crime groups are increasingly using non-bank intermediaries to transfer large sums of money across international / transnational borders, often by-passing the obligation requirements imposed by the Anti-Money Laundering and Counter Terrorism Financing Act.

This operation is a global initiative –the Australian Crime Commission uses criminal intelligence insights from various foreign law enforcement bodies, such as the United States Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), US Customs and Border Protection (CBP), the Hong Kong Police Force and even the Indian Enforcement Directorate. Collaboration with these various agencies has led to the disruption of many organised crime syndicates. For example, Operation Eligo seized over $580 million worth of drugs and assets, including $26 million in cash, in 2012.

How is money laundering investigated on a international / transnational scale?

This operation is a global initiative – the ACIC uses criminal intelligence insights from various foreign law enforcement bodies, such as the United States Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), US Customs and Border Protection (CBP), the Hong Kong Police Force and even the Indian Enforcement Directorate.

Collaboration with these various agencies has led to the disruption of many organised crime syndicates. For example, Operation Eligo seized over $580 million worth of drugs and assets, including $26 million in cash, in 2012.

Are you facing charges or being investigated for money laundering?

Nyman Gibson Miralis is a leading criminal law firm based in Sydney. Our expertise in representing clients accused of financial crimes, including fraud, is international in practice. We have provided legal services to clients based in Asia, Australia, and United States of America. Our solicitors often travel overseas for conferences on the latest developments in anti-money laundering.

Our solicitors have developed an intricate understanding of the limits of the powers available to the Australian Crime Commission and the Australian Federal Police and are ready to ensure that your rights are protected.

Take advantage of our specialist expertise in money laundering investigations

At Nyman Gibson Miralis, we are experts in assisting companies and individuals who are the subject of investigations by AUSTRAC, the AFP, the ATO (Australian Taxation Office) and the Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission (ACIC) for suspected money laundering activities.

We have specialised knowledge of the substantive laws under which these agencies operate and the practice and procedure of investigations and prosecutions.

Our point of difference from other law firms is that we have been involved in most of the significant litigation in relation to money laundering allegations in Australia and have acquired expertise as litigators and trusted legal advisors concerning money laundering investigations and prosecutions.

We are widely recognised as being experts in transnational money laundering investigations and have been involved in advising in investigations involving the USA, Hong Kong, Singapore, China, Cambodia, Cyprus, Russia, New Zealand, South Korea and Europe, where there has been an Australian connection.