Almost $1 million in cash found in the boot of a man’s car in Western Australia has been forfeited to the Commonwealth after an AFP-led proceeds of crime investigation.
The AFP found two bags containing plastic vacuum-sealed bundles of Australian currency totalling $998,850 when they intercepted a car in a coastal car park in City Beach in October 2022 as part of a money laundering investigation.
The man behind the wheel, now aged 35, was charged with recklessly dealing with the proceeds of crime and was sentenced on 8 August, 2023 to three years and six months’ imprisonment by the Perth District Court after pleading guilty to the offence.
He was working as a courier for criminal groups attempting to launder large amounts of cash generated from criminal activities.
The AFP intercepted the man’s car, as part of Operation PHOBETOR-ATLAS, a joint money laundering investigation involving the AFP, NSW Police Force (NSWPF) and the Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission (ACIC).
After the cash was seized, the AFP-led Criminal Asset Confiscation Taskforce (CACT) launched a financial investigation, which revealed the amount grossly exceeded the man’s observed income and expenditure.
The CACT applied to the WA courts to have the cash restrained and forfeited and the man did not mount a defence to keep the cash. The matter was finalised by consent, with the District Court of WA ordering the funds to be forfeited under the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 (Cth).
AFP Detective Inspector John Whitehead said the AFP worked tirelessly to prevent criminals from profiting from their illegal activities.
“Money laundering is a key enabler of organised crime and drug trafficking and is a serious criminal enterprise in its own right,” Det Insp Whitehead said.
“Removing the profit from crime is key to disrupting organised criminal activity and deliver maximum damage to the criminal environment.
“The AFP and its partners have ensured this money is not used to fund other criminal activities, such as drug trafficking, and will instead be used to support the community.
“The AFP will continue to work with its partner agencies to create hostile environments for crime syndicates who seek to exploit the Australian community.
”The funds derived from the sale of confiscated assets are placed into the Confiscated Assets Account which is managed by the Australian Financial Security Authority on behalf of the Commonwealth. These funds can be distributed by the Attorney-General to benefit the community through crime prevention, intervention or diversion programs or other law enforcement initiatives across Australia.
The CACT brings together the resources and expertise of the AFP, Australian Taxation Office, Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission, AUSTRAC and Australian Border Force. Together, these agencies trace, restrain and ultimately confiscate criminal assets.
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