Odisha Sun Times Bureau
New Delhi, Sept 26:
A joint international effort to disrupt a sophisticated transnational money laundering network yesterday resulted in 13 search warrants being conducted across Australia, with a further nine search warrants conducted by the Indian Enforcement Directorate (IED) in India, a Australian High Commission release said today.
The joint investigation involved members from the Australian Federal Police’s (AFP) Operation Zanella, Australian Crime Commission (ACC), South Australian Police (SAPOL) and the Australian Transaction Reports and Analysis Centre (AUSTRAC), in addition to the work undertaken by the IED, the release informed.
Search warrants were conducted in Clearview and Ingle Farm (SA), Tapping and Harrisdale (WA), Lyndhurst, Templestowe, St Albans, Thomastown and East Melbourne (Victoria), Gilmore and Kambah (ACT) and Chermside West (Queensland). Across these premises, police seized $73,000 in cash and a significant volume of electronic and financial material suspected to relate to money laundering.
A 39-year-old man from Ingle Farm, South Australia, was arrested and charged with dealing in proceeds of crime (money or property worth AUD$100,000 or more) contrary to section 400.4 of the Criminal Code Act 1995 (Cth) and providing false or misleading information to a reporting entity contrary to section 136 of the Anti-Money Laundering and Counter-Terrorism Financing Act 2006.
A 41-year-old man from Tapping, Western Australia was arrested and charged for dealing in property reasonably suspected of being proceeds of crime contrary to section 400.9 of the Criminal Code Act 1995.
It will be alleged the joint investigation has identified an extensive international Alternative Remittance Services (ARS) network involved in laundering millions of dollars out of Australia on behalf of serious and organised crime. The ARS network is alleged to have used Australian bank accounts, corporate structures and complicit remitting agents to facilitate their illegal laundering activities.
The two South Australian search warrants are related to nine search warrants conducted in Adelaide in August 2014 as part of an investigation conducted by the ACC Eligo National Task Force, SAPOL and the AFP. The August warrants resulted in the seizure of more than 300 cannabis plants, 35kg of dry cannabis and $12,350 in cash. As a result seven people were arrested for cannabis related offences.
AFP Acting National Manager Serious and Organised Crime, David Stewart, said the disruption of organised crime by attacking the global criminal economy is a priority for law enforcement agencies.
“The mission is to dismantle transnational money laundering networks and prevent illegal funds from being reinvested in organised crime,” acting Assistant Commissioner Stewart said.
“The collaboration of partner agencies both in Australia and with the Indian Enforcement Directorate is exceptional.”
The Indian Director of Enforcement commended the active close cooperation of the Australian authorities in dismantling an important international money laundering structure.
“In ongoing bilateral cooperation between the Enforcement Directorate and the Australian Federal Police, a major crackdown was successfully made in Amritsar and Delhi on a suspected hawala and money laundering syndicate linked with narcotic drugs proceeds of crime,” he said.
ACC acting National Manager Investigations, Warren Gray, said the Eligo National Task Force was focused on identifying and disrupting sophisticated money laundering activities linked to the alternative remittance sector.
“Money and profit is the life-blood of serious and organised crime. By working together, Australian law enforcement and regulatory agencies have effective unearthed widespread organised criminal activity and millions of dollars that would otherwise be destined to line the pockets of criminals,” Mr Gray said.
Mr John Schmidt, Acting CEO AUSTRAC said AUSTRAC has supported this joint agency operation through the provision of financial intelligence assessments.
“In light of the money laundering activity which has been identified related to the use of registered remittance businesses, AUSTRAC is considering what regulatory action should be taken arising out of this investigation,” Mr Schmidt said.
The investigation is ongoing and police have not ruled out further search warrants and arrests.
( Text-courtesy : Australian High Commission)