The Australian Federal Police (AFP) has successfully confiscated $15.8 million in assets from a principal conspirator in a syndicate alleged to have defrauded the Commonwealth of more than $105 million over three years.
The 38-year-old Liverpool man was arrested and charged as part of an AFP-led investigation in 2017, known as Operation Elbrus.
He was sentenced mid-last year in the Supreme Court of New South Wales to seven years and six months jail for conspiring to defraud the Commonwealth and dealing with the proceeds of crime.
The AFP-led Criminal Assets Confiscation Taskforce (CACT) obtained restraining orders in May 2017 under the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 (Cth) over an assets pool worth an estimated $15.8 million linked to the Plutus Payroll founder. This included six properties, three vehicles, multiple bank accounts, investment accounts and share holdings, as well as several luxury items including watches.
The man’s assets were forfeited to the Commonwealth on 31 January 2021, six months after the sentencing.
Stefan Jerga, National Manager Criminal Assets Confiscation said the AFP is targeting crime from all angles, and the CACT takes action to ensure that criminals are deprived of the benefits of their illegal activities.
“Fraud is not a victimless crime; it is a crime that impacts directly upon the community. The confiscation of these assets serves as a clear message to organised criminals: you will not only risk being charged and incarcerated for your fraudulent activities, you will also see your houses, vehicles, savings and personal items taken away from you.”
The confiscated assets can now be sold, with the proceeds placed in the Commonwealth’s Confiscated Assets Account. Funds in this account are then redistributed by the Minister for Home Affairs to support crime prevention, law enforcement and other community initiatives.
The AFP-led CACT was formed in 2011 as part of a multi-agency crackdown on criminal assets, bringing together the resources and expertise of the AFP, Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission, Australian Taxation Office, Australian Transaction Reports and Analysis Centre, and Australian Border Force.
Together, these agencies trace, restrain and ultimately confiscate criminal assets.