Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions

The Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions (CDPP) is Australia’s independent federal prosecution service. It prosecutes alleged offences against Commonwealth law, thereby protecting Australians and upholding the rule of law.

In its 2018-19 Annual Report, the CDPP provides insight into the allocation of crime types across its National Practice Group model, the top referring agencies, and the most important prosecution trends observed throughout the reporting period.

 

The CDPP is made up of specialist legal practice groups, which comprise to form the National Practice Group.

This structure allows prosecutors to specialise in a range of crime types, across multiple jurisdictions. Specialised legal practice groups include:

  • Commercial, Financial and Corruption: Prosecutes serious financial crimes and corruption offences.
  • Revenue and Benefits Fraud: Prosecutes general tax, social security, Medicare and identity fraud.
  • Organised Crime and Counter Terrorism: Prosecutes counter terrorism and large-scale organised crime offences.
  • International Assistance and Specialist Agencies: Prosecutes matters referred by specialist agencies and provides international assistance.
  • Human Exploitation and Border Protection: Prosecutes child exploitation, people trafficking, people smuggling, migration offences and more.
  • Illegal Imports and Exports: Prosecutes offences associated with protecting Australia’s borders, including drug offences.

Each practice group is led by a Deputy Director who is responsible for prosecutions conducted by the practice group across Australia, and contributes to policy development and law reform relevant to the work of the group.

 

Commercial, Financial and Corruption Practice Group

 

Matters prosecuted

The Commercial, Financial and Corruption (CFC) Practice Group prosecutes:

  • White collar crime.
  • Serious financial crimes.
  • Offences involving corporations (under the Corporations Act 2001), such as insider trading and market manipulation.
  • Offences involving financial services, such as breaching licensing requirements.
  • Large-scale and complex tax fraud, often with an international dimension.
  • Criminal cartel conduct, such as price fixing.
  • Bribery of foreign public officials and corruption involving Commonwealth officials.

 

Top referring agencies

The Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) refers 68% of cases.

Other top referring agencies include the Australian Federal Police (14%), Australian Taxation Office (5%), Australian Competition and Consumer Commission [ACCC] (4%) and State and territory departments of corrective services (3%).

 

  • Consistent increase in referrals from the ACCC relating to criminal cartel offences. In a recent case, an Australian company, its director and a former employee were charged with bid rigging and price fixing relating to government tenders to supply technological products to hospitals and other facilities.
  • Continued focus on foreign bribery. A recent case involved the prosecution of a company and six employees related to bribing officials in the Philippines and Vietnam to obtain work on various infrastructure programs.
  • Continued focus on large-scale tax fraud. This work is supported by multi-agency taskforces such as the Serious Financial Crime Taskforce, which focuses on international tax evasion and illegal phoenix activity.

 

Organised Crime and Counter Terrorism

 

Matters prosecuted

The Organised Crime and Counter Terrorism (OCCT) Practice Group prosecutes:

  • Terrorism offences.
  • Organised crime – including transnational drug importations, firearms trafficking and money laundering.
  • National security matters.
  • War crimes.

 

Top referring agencies

The AFP refers 81% of cases.

Other top referring agencies include State and territory police (18%) and the Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission (1%).

 

  • Trials are becoming increasingly complex and taking longer to resolve.
  • This is in part due to the growing volume of electronic material available, and the challenges in managing this data across multiple stakeholders in joint agency investigations.
  • The CDPP is undergoing digital transformation to better respond to the challenges of big data, and OOCT prosecutors are embracing these changes.

 

Revenue and Benefits Fraud

 

Matters prosecuted

The Revenue and Benefits Fraud (RBF) Practice Group prosecutes:

  • General tax fraud and tax compliance including income tax and GST fraud.
  • Centrelink and Medicare fraud.
  • Provider fraud.
  • Fraud-related money laundering.
  • Identity fraud.
  • Child support offences.
  • Counterfeit currency offices.
  • Other frauds against the Commonwealth.
  • NDIS fraud.

 

Top referring agencies

Centrelink refers 62% of cases.

Other top referring agencies include the ATO (11%), Medicare (11%), State and territory police (8%) and the AFP (2%).

 

  • Increase in complex Centrelink fraud cases, including those involving online offending and the use of multiple identities.
  • Increase in family day care fraud where recipients fail to correctly declare their income to Centrelink.
  • Increase in Medicare fraud.
  • Sustained provider fraud whereby medical practices operate via complex corporate structures and claim benefits they are not entitled to.
  • NDIS (National Disability Insurance Scheme) fraud is a new area of prosecution. The first conviction occurred in 2018-19 and the offender was sentenced to four years’ imprisonment for defrauding more than $370,000 from the scheme.
  • Prosecution of a range of tax fraud matters referred by the ATO.

 

International Assistance and Specialist Agencies

 

Matters prosecuted

The International Assistance and Specialist Agencies (IASA) Practice Group prosecutes matters involving:

  • Extradition and mutual assistance.
  • Administration of justice offences.
  • Building and construction industry offences.
  • Electoral offences.
  • Environment offences.
  • Indigenous corporations.
  • Offences against Commonwealth officials and property.
  • Assistance in a range of other specialised areas, often involving compliance.

 

Top referring agencies

The Australian Financial Security Authority refers 25% of cases.

Other top referring agencies include the AFP (20%), Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority (9%), State and territory police (6%), and Office of the Registrar of Indigenous Corporations (5%).

 

  • IASA continues to coordinate the CDPP’s proceeds of crime functions.
  • Matters prosecuted are usually referred as a result of community policing efforts and include driving offences, assault, family violence and theft.
  • IASA continues to provide an independent prosecution service for Norfolk Island.

 

Human Exploitation and Border Protection

 

Matters prosecuted

The Human Exploitation and Border Protection (HEBP) Practice Group prosecutes:

  • Child exploitation.
  • Human trafficking and people smuggling.
  • Migration fraud.
  • Telecommunications offences.
  • Aircraft and airport offences.
  • Federal community policing.

 

Top referring agencies

State and territory police refer 47% of cases.

Other top referring agencies include the AFP (33%), State and territory departments of corrective services (11%), Australian Border Force (8%), and Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT).

 

  • Child exploitation prosecutions becoming more complex, with cases increasingly transnational.
  • Greater emphasis on digital forensics and mutual assistance to support prosecutions.
  • Raised community awareness about crimes such as forced marriage, labour exploitation and human trafficking leading to an increase in referrals for these matters.
  • Conviction rates for people charged with child sex offences are high.

 

Illegal Imports and Exports

 

Matters prosecuted

The Illegal Imports and Exports (IIE) Practice Group prosecutes:

  • Serious drug and precursor importations.
  • Tobacco importation.
  • Firearms importation.
  • Money laundering.
  • Other importation and exportation offences.

 

Top referring agencies

The AFP refers 41% of cases.

Other top referring agencies include State and territory Police (30%), Australian Border Force (19%), Department of Agriculture (6%), and State and territory departments of corrective services (2%).

 

  • Increased complexity of matters and prosecution challenges due to:
    • Offenders becoming more aware of law enforcement techniques and adjusting activities accordingly.
    • Destruction of evidence.
    • Increasing sophistication of crime syndicates in managing members.
  • Steady number of referrals relating to the illegal importation of firearms.
  • Increased referrals from state and territory police in relation to drug importation matters.

 

Law reform

Each practice group works closely with the Australian government regarding new legislation and the operation of existing laws.

For example, On 10 April 2019, the Australian government commissioned the Australian Law Reform Commission to undertake a comprehensive review of the corporate criminal responsibility regime. The Commercial, Financial and Corruption (CFC) practice group provided assistance to the Commission in this review.

 

Stakeholder engagement

Each practice group collaborates with a range of partners agencies. They engage with investigators early on to ensure that sufficient resources are gathered to enable successful prosecutions, and provide agencies with advice during investigations.

Collaboration with partner agencies often involves:

  • Delivery of training and presentations on a range of topics, from the use of electronic evidence to supporting victims of crime.
  • Initiatives related to law reform and Royal Commissions. For example, the CDPP anticipated receiving referrals during 2019–20 from the Financial Services Royal Commission. It will be interesting to see the results in the next annual report.
  • Participation in international working groups, such as the OECD Working Group on Bribery.
  • Attending international workshops on a range of issues, such as cartel enforcement and prosecutions.
  • Developing guides to support police, such as a guide to preparing briefs of evidence in child exploitation matters.

 

Conclusion

The Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions (CDPP) prosecutes alleged offences against Commonwealth law. The CDPP’s National Practice Group model is made up of several practice groups which specialise in different crime areas.

While the Commercial, Financial and Corruption Practice Group is the main group responsible for the prosecution of white collar and corporate crime, including serious financial crime and foreign bribery, other practice groups also prosecute white collar crime areas.

For example, the Revenue and Benefits Fraud Practice Group prosecutes fraud-related money laundering, and the Organised Crime and Counter Terrorism Practice Group prosecutes large-scale organised crime which may be related to white collar crime.

Nyman Gibson Miralis provides expert advice and representation in complex cases prosecuted by the CDPP.

Contact us if you require assistance.