Money laundering is becoming an increasingly cross-border crime, requiring the co-operation of multiple global agencies to investigate and prosecute offenders.
The legal questions that arise concerning the sharing of information between agencies and the possibility of being subjected to punishment in multiple jurisdictions makes these investigations highly complex.
This article explores examples of international money laundering cases involving Australia as provided by The Australian Transaction Reports and Analysis Centre (AUSTRAC).
Money laundering case 1: Australia, India, the UK and the US
An international network of remittance service providers which operated mainly out of India but also had connections to the U.K. and the U.S., laundered millions of dollars out of Australia on behalf of organised crime syndicates. The network used Australian bank accounts, corporate structures and complicit remitting agents in Australia and overseas to launder the funds.
Law enforcement in Australia, India, the U.S. and the U.K. made a number of arrests. Two offenders in Australia were arrested and charged with offences relating to dealing in the proceeds of crime, while three offenders in India were charged on drug trafficking and money laundering offences.
Authorities seized around AU$10 million in assets.
Money laundering case 2: Australia and Hong Kong
A Hong Kong-based syndicate was operating in Australia to launder the proceeds of organised crime. Syndicate members deposited approximately A$29.5 million using multiple banks and ATMs, into accounts belonging to newly established Australian companies whose directors were Hong Kong nationals living overseas. The money was ultimately transferred to China.
This activity was led by a key Australia-based member of the syndicate who received money on 13 occasions, collecting up to A$500,000 in cash at a time, and who took other syndicate members to banks and ATMs to make deposits.
The syndicate’s key Australia-based member pleaded guilty to dealing in the proceeds of crime and was sentenced to 10 years in prison.
Money laundering case 3: Australia, New Zealand and China
A money laundering syndicate operating between Australia, New Zealand and China attempted to launder more than A$600,000 through casino accounts, remittance service providers and banks. Reporting by banks and casinos helped law enforcement catch the main offender, who worked for a remittance service in New Zealand, and travelled to Australia for the purpose of laundering money.
The offender colluded with a number of associates in attempting to launder the money. One associate met the offender in a casino parking lot and gave her a backpack containing A$624,340 in cash, which the offender deposited into her casino account, then attempting to transfer A$200,000 of the money to the bank account of another associate who worked for an Australian money transfer business. When this transfer failed, the offender withdrew A$300,000 in cash from the casino account and went to a bank attempting to deposit the cash in order to transfer it to the associate.
The offender was sentenced to 16 months imprisonment. None of the co-conspirators were implicated or charged with any offences.