What is the NSW Crime Commission?
The NSW Crime Commission is a statutory body that is tasked with investigating and gathering evidence of serious criminal activity.
It has the following responsibilities:
- To investigate matters relating to serious criminal activities such as murder, drug supply, firearms dealing, and money laundering.
- To assemble evidence to assist the NSW Director of Public Prosecutions in the preparation of the prosecution case against a suspect or an accused.
- To furnish evidence obtained in the course of investigations to the Attorney-General.
- To furnish reports in relation to organised crimes with a view of commencing investigations against the perpetrators.
- Restrain interests in property suspected of being proceeds of crime
What powers does the NSW Crime Commission have?
The Crime Commission Act 2012 (NSW) gives the Commission far-reaching powers.
While the NSW Police Force is compelled to follow strict rules of evidence and fairness, section 14 of the Crime Commission Act gives the Crime Commission the power to do all things necessary to discharge its functions.
In order to discharge its functions, the Commission may do the following:
- Issue a search warrant.
- Conduct an examination hearing.
- Compel the production of information, documents, and other things.
- All things necessary for or in connection with, or reasonably incidental to, the exercise of its functions.
Non-publication orders concerning evidence given at an examination
Section 45(1) of the Crime Commission Act gives the Crime Commission the power to prohibit the publication of any answers procured during an examination, if to do otherwise would prejudice the fair trial of a person who has been or may be charged with an offence.
Is the “reasonable excuse defence” available for refusing to answer questions?
The NSW Court of Criminal Appeal has previously held that the mere fact that answering questions would tend to incriminate a person does not provide a reasonable excuse to justify a refusal to answer.
In other words, if you have not yet been charged, you must answer the questions. Failure to answer questions may amount to contempt. The Court has held that the questions must first be answered before the Crime Commission can determine whether it is a reasonable excuse to subject the answer to a non-disclosure direction.
The Court further held that such persons already receive adequate protection under section 18B(2) of the New South Wales Crime Commission Act (1985) (now section 39(2) of the Crime Commission Act) which prevents answers produced in an examination from being used against them in criminal proceedings
Financial investigations and confiscation of assets
The NSW Crime Commission conducts financial investigations, employing the expertise of forensic accountants and financial analysts, where it suspects that someone is dealing with the proceeds of crime. The Commission seeks to sue people in the NSW Supreme Court to recover criminal proceeds, whether derived from one’s own criminal activity or other people’s crimes.
The Commission uses compulsory examinations as a key tool in restraining and confiscating assets. These examinations help to elicit information about a person’s property and assets. Once the Crime Commission has obtained all the evidence it needs, it will then seek asset forfeiture orders under section 22 of the Criminal Assets Recovery Act 1990, preventing dealings with a defendant’s interests in property or other assets.
How can we help you?
We provide expert advice and representation in complex matters before the NSW Crime Commission.
Contact us if you require assistance.