AFP money laundering typologies 2021

The Australian Federal Police (AFP) has cracked down on organised crime and professional money launderers throughout 2021 and shows no signs of slowing down in 2022.

Throughout 2021, the AFP laid 96 money laundering charges. This article highlights some of the key investigations and tactics observed.


Money laundering through cryptocurrency exchanges and ATMs

Individuals are depositing tens-of-thousands of dollars into ATMs, transferring the cash into separate bank accounts. The deposited cash is then used facilitate cryptocurrency exchanges, and afterwards the funds are transferred overseas. This activity helps to anonymise and conceal the illicit nature of the funds.

Recently, two Malaysian nationals were charged, allegedly employing this tactic, following an AFP-led investigation which resulted in the seizure of $350,000 in cash.


Dealing in the proceeds of crime

Most money laundering offences involve dealing in money or property alleged to be the proceeds of crime. However, the potential offences will depend on the value of these proceeds.

In the above cryptocurrency exchange example, both men were charged with dealing in proceeds of crime more than $100,000, contrary to section 400.9 (1) of the Criminal Code Act 1995 (Cth). The maximum penalty for this offence is imprisonment for up to three years or 180 penalty points.

If convicted of more serious offences, such as those involving multi-million-dollar money laundering schemes, individuals face a potential maximum sentence of life imprisonment. This follows new legislative reforms introduced in 2021.


Organised crime linked to money laundering

There have been several AFP investigations throughout 2021 into organised crime groups tied to money laundering syndicates.

There is a trend of alleged laundering of millions of dollars to the Middle East on behalf of Outlaw Motor Cycle Gangs based in Australia and offshore. As part of Operation Ghibli, the AFP seized more than $850,000 in cash and arrested two men with alleged links to a Middle Eastern organised crime syndicate.


Asset confiscation

The AFP-led Criminal Assets Confiscation Taskforce (CACT) seeks to deprive offenders of the proceeds of their crimes, which both punishes them and prevents them from funding future criminal enterprises.

From mid-2019 until the end of 2021, the value of assets restrained by the CACT reached almost $490 million. AFP Assistant Commissioner Kirsty Schofield sent a clear warning to organised crime groups and money launderers, saying “We will not only catch you – we’ll hit you where it hurts most – your pocket.”


Key takeaways

Throughout 2021, the AFP laid 96 money laundering charges. The criminal activity ranged from traditional money laundering linked to organised crime, to more innovative methods exploiting technologies such as cryptocurrency.

The AFP has sent a strong signal to criminals that it will not tolerate money laundering, and has reiterated that for more serious offences, individuals face a potential maximum sentence of life imprisonment.

Nyman Gibson Miralis provides expert advice and representation in cases involving money laundering and organised crime.

Contact us if you require assistance.