Three Victorian properties valued at $4.2 million were today forfeited to the Commonwealth by order of the Melbourne Supreme Court. This is the first forfeiture action under the terms of the Joint Agency Arrangement (JAA) on economic crime cooperation between the Australian Federal Police (AFP) and the People’s Republic of China, Ministry of Public Security (MPS).
The AFP Criminal Assets Confiscation Taskforce (CACT) restrained the properties on 22 November 2018 as part of a proceeds of crime investigation into offshore funds allegedly being laundered in Australia by Chinese nationals.
The properties include houses in the Melbourne suburbs of Glen Waverley and Southbank, and part of a commercial facility in Oakleigh South valued at approximately $1.5 million.
It was alleged in court that the assets were listed as owned by a Chinese national operating under an assumed identity. The 32-year-old subsequently left Australia and is believed to have relocated to the Caribbean.
The properties were the subject of a Commonwealth restraining order made under the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002. These proceeds of crime are related to the following offences:
- Dealing with property reasonably suspected of being proceeds of crime contrary to section 400.9 of the Criminal Code 1995 (Cth);
- Providing false or misleading information to a reporting entity contrary to section 136(1) of the Anti-Money Laundering and Counter Terrorism Financing Act 2006 (Cth); and
- Producing false or misleading documents to a reporting entity contrary to section 137(1) of the Anti-Money Laundering and Counter Terrorism Financing Act 2006 (Cth).
Today marks six months since the first restraining order was obtained and, in the absence of proceedings commenced by the respondent, the assets were officially forfeited to the Commonwealth.
The funds from the sale of the properties will be deposited into the Confiscated Assets Account, which is managed by the Australian Financial Security Authority (AFSA) on behalf of the Commonwealth.
The funds can be used to benefit the community through crime prevention, intervention or diversion programs, or other law enforcement initiatives.
This operation further highlights the AFP’s relationship with the MPS and ongoing close collaboration under the Joint Agency Arrangement on economic crime cooperation.