Money Laundering in Australia: Human Trafficking, Casinos and Luxury Goods.

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Money Laundering in Australia: Human Trafficking, Casinos and Luxury Goods

Author: Dennis Miralis, Criminal Defence Lawyer.

Money Laundering

The Nyman Gibson Miralis money laundering lawyers have expertise in advising and representing corporations and individuals who are being investigated or prosecuted for money laundering offences in Australia.

The extent of money laundering in Australia can be seen from some recent examples of the prosecution and detection of money laundering techniques by AUSTRAC.

Association with human trafficking and people smuggling

Australia

AUSTRAC provided financial information which assisted in investigations into a human trafficking operation from Thailand, and a people smuggling operation.

AUSTRAC analysed financial transactions made in each case. In the case of the human trafficking operation from Thailand, women who were trafficked into Australia for the purpose of working in brothels were asked to pay back a ‘debt’ they had incurred in order for their passage to and employment in Australia to be organised. They paid money to the main suspect in Australia, who then sent the funds to a broker in Thailand. The transactions were structured in order to avoid detection by authorities, and to evade reporting requirements.

In the case of the people smuggling operation, financial transactions between Suspect A in Indonesia and Suspect B in Australia, which were structured to evade reporting requirements, were revealed by an AUSTRAC investigation. Suspect A also provided multiple (and conflicting) identification details when making transfers from Indonesia to Australia.

In both cases, the financial information obtained by AUSTRAC was used to assist in the investigation by law enforcement agencies.

Use of nominees, trusts, family members or third parties

Australia

AUSTRAC assisted an investigation which disrupted a global crime syndicate involved in money laundering and the importation of more than 30 kilograms of methamphetamine (also known as speed, ice or crank) into Australia.

The cells in Australia were headed by Suspect A and B.

Most of suspect A’s financial activity involved large cash and regular incoming international funds transfer instructions (IFTIs) from companies in Canada, Iran, Slovenia, the UAE and Turkey.

Suspect A was also the subject of two suspicious matter reports (SMRs) submitted by a bank. The SMRs described the various activities observed that gave it grounds for suspicion:

• Suspect A’s unusual account activity
• Funds being sent to/received from high-risk jurisdictions
• Large cash deposits made at different bank branches on the same day
• Third parties making cash deposits into suspect A’s account.

Suspect B sent funds to approximately 38 overseas-based beneficiary customers in 12 different countries, with the top five countries being the United States, Lebanon, China, Luxembourg and Syria. Suspect B was also the subject of two SMR reports submitted by a bank, detailing the following activity:

• The suspect’s trading account received regular large cash deposits, which were followed by cheque withdrawals issued to third parties.
• Suspect B’s mortgage account exhibited unusual transaction behaviour, being used for very large cash deposits and withdrawals (worth hundreds of thousands of dollars).
• The suspect made many large cash deposits; behaviour which was inconsistent with the suspect’s claimed occupation as a shop assistant.

Gambling activities (casinos, horse racing, internet gambling etc.)

Australia

AUSTRAC provided a report to law enforcement agencies regarding the financial activities of a suspect. This suspect made structured cash deposits of amounts designed to evade reporting requirements over a four-day period.

The deposits were then moved to the suspect’s account at a casino, where an additional amount was deposited in cash the same day.

The casino submitted a report to AUSTRAC that noted the suspect’s aliases, and that he would become aggressive when asked for identification as part of the casino’s normal identification procedures for cashing out gaming chips.

Purchase of valuable assets (artworks, antiquities, race horses, vehicles, etc.)

Australia

Suspect A and her husband B were the subject of reports from financial institutions to AUSTRAC, that noted among other things that:

• Withdrawals were made in amounts designed to avoid having to complete significant cash transaction reports
• The suspects received government welfare payments as well as large cheque deposits
• Staff at a credit union observed that Suspects A and B were ‘nervous’ when making deposits
• Numerous assets were purchased by Suspects A and B, including a house and five motor vehicles.

Enquiries showed that their income did not support their lifestyle. Further law enforcement investigations revealed that Suspects A and B were involved in the supply of drugs in Australia, with links to others overseas.

Mingling (business investment)

New Zealand

A bar was used to mingle cash proceeds for two reasons:

• Drinks are often purchased in cash, in multiple small untraceable and easily forged transactions.
• Takings may be variable providing an opportunity to explain unusual cash deposits.

A central figure of a drug supply ring used a central Auckland bar to co‐mingle the proceeds of drug sales. Ron Brown’s declared source of income was an unemployment and later sickness benefit;. However, in 2007, Brown was able to purchase the K’ Rd Pool Bar & Lounge.

While the business was run at a loss, Brown would use the business to place the proceeds of his drug offending without having to deposit cash from drug sales at financial institutions. He did this by paying business expenses with drug cash, and banking the bar takings as per a legitimate bar in the business account. This allowed Brown to effectively swap the drug cash for the clean bar money.

Use of shell companies/corporations

Singapore

A UK national incorporated Fairwind Pte Ltd in Singapore and opened bank accounts in Singapore in its name.

Fairwind then received money from victims of investment scams. The victims, residing in various jurisdictions, received cold calls purporting to offer exclusive pre-initial-public offering shares of foreign companies with the promise of attractive returns. They then received invoices via email with instructions to remit funds to various overseas bank accounts, including the said account of Fairwind in Singapore.

The funds, once received, were then sent back overseas soon after receipt into Fairwind’s business accounts.

These transactions were not consistent with Fairwind’s registered business activity of building and repairing pleasure crafts, lighters and boats, and general wholesale trade.

Found yourself under investigation? How can Nyman Gibson Miralis help?

At Nyman Gibson Miralis, our lawyers are experts in assisting companies and individuals who are the subject of investigations by AUSTRAC, the Australian Federal Police (AFP), the (Australian Taxation Office (ATO) and the Australian Crime Commission (ACC) for suspected money laundering activities.

Nyman Gibson Miralis has specialised knowledge of the substantive laws under which these agencies operate and the practice and procedure of investigations and prosecutions.

Our unique point of difference from other law firms is that we have been involved in most of the significant litigation in relation to money laundering allegations in Australia and have acquired expertise as litigators and trusted legal advisors concerning money laundering investigations and prosecutions.

We are widely recognised as being experts in transnational money laundering investigations and have been involved in advising in investigations involving the USA, Hong Kong, Singapore, China, Cambodia, Cyprus, Russia, New Zealand, South Korea and Europe, where there has been an Australian connection.

We are a criminal defence law firm working from Sydney and Parramatta offices. We can assist you with any type of criminal charges. If you need advice from a criminal defence lawyer, contact one of our criminal law specialists immediately at either our Sydney or our Parramatta offices. Call 1800 NOT GUILTY 24 hours per day, 7 days per week, or send the contact form on this page, and arrange a free conference with a criminal defence solicitor today.

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