This is a joint media release between AUSTRAC and WA Police Force.
Several people have been charged by WA Police Force as part of an investigation into a suspected Vietnamese Established Criminal Network involved in money laundering activity.
The investigation, which commenced in February 2019, was undertaken by WA Police Force’s Proceeds of Crime Squad – Meth Money Team. It was conducted in conjunction with AUSTRAC (the Australian Transaction Reports and Analysis Centre), with support from major banks ANZ, NAB, Westpac and Commonwealth Bank.
The investigation involved AUSTRAC’s Fintel Alliance – a public-private partnership that brings together government and industry partners to harness a collaborative approach to combat and disrupt serious and organised crime.
It is estimated the Established Criminal Network was involved in laundering over $5 million since February 2019.
On Thursday 27 June 2019 WA Police Force was alerted by a bank to suspicious transactions being conducted by a man and a woman in the Perth area in the previous 24 hour period. They were visiting several banks, making cash deposits into a number of different accounts.
The man and woman were arrested a short time later and a search warrant was executed at a hotel room. It will be alleged the search resulted in documents being located that indicated more than $180,000 worth of cash deposits had been made. At the time of the arrest the man was still in possession of over $6,000 cash.
The 27-year-old man and a 25-year-old woman, both from Springvale, Victoria, were charged with Possession of Stolen or Unlawfully Obtained Property. They were refused bail and have since appeared in court several times. They are next due to appear in the Perth Magistrates Court on Friday 21 February 2020.
On Wednesday 14 August 2019 a search warrant was executed at a residence in French Street, Tuart Hill. It will be alleged more than twenty four (24) kilograms of cannabis material was located, packaged ready for distribution. Several items associated with the sale or supply of prohibited drugs were located, along with amounts of methylamphetamine, MDMA and cocaine, and two firearms.
Other items of interest to the money laundering investigation were located, including over $170,000 cash. A 32-year-old woman and a 25-year-old man were arrested. A subsequent search warrant was executed at a residence in Aberdeen Street, Northbridge, the following day, where more items of interest were located.
It will be alleged financial transactions totalling more than $3.3 million have been linked to the 32-year-old woman.
The 32-year-old woman from Bassendean and a 25-year-old man from Tuart Hill have been charged with drug and property laundering offences. The woman is next due to appear in the Perth Magistrates Court on Friday 28 February 2020, and the man is next due to appear in the Perth Magistrates Court today, Tuesday 14 January 2020.
(Media Note: A breakdown of charges for ‘Arrest Two’ is provided in Appendix A)
Acting Detective Senior Sergeant Paul MATTHEWS, Operations Manager, Proceeds of Crime Squad, said the evidence identified to date shows a well-planned and coordinated established criminal network was in operation:
“It is clear a lot of thought went into the methods used by those involved in an attempt to prevent law enforcement agencies detecting their criminal activity. However, our relationships with the financial services industry, and that industry’s own increased recognition and awareness of their role in fighting serious crime, has resulted in critical and timely intelligence being identified and shared that directly resulted in the identification and arrests of those people who have been charged.
“Through operations like this we are able to establish new intelligence and lines of investigation for our national and international intelligence and law enforcement partners, and continue to combat serious crime both within and outside our borders.
“All organised crime activity is driven by profit, and targeting those who are enabling money to be laundered, regardless of the laundering process being used, helps make Western Australia a hostile environment for those criminal networks to operate. In this instance, given the seizure of drugs during the operation, we believe significantly more amounts of money would have been laundered had the criminal network not been dismantled.”
AUSTRAC National Manager, Intelligence Partnerships, Brad Brown said that this example highlights the importance of intelligence, law enforcement and Australia’s major banks working together to combat money laundering.
“This result shows how initiatives such as Fintel Alliance enable AUSTRAC, our financial industry partners and WA Police Force to collaborate in the fight against financial crime and protect the Australian community from harm,” Mr Brown said.