Two men have been charged as part of ongoing investigations into an international money-laundering operation.
In June 2020, officers attached to Sutherland Police Area Command established Strike Force Royala to investigate a criminal syndicate responsible for a number of fraud-related matters and the illegal transfer of a substantial amount of funds to offshore accounts.
Strike force investigators were also assisted throughout the investigation by the Cybercrime Squad and Financial Crimes Squad, and specialist financial intelligence was provided by AUSTRAC (Australian Transaction Reports and Analysis Centre).
Following extensive inquiries, strike force investigators executed two search warrants at homes at Cronulla and Kirrawee about 8am yesterday (Tuesday 17 November 2020).
During the searches, officers seized more than $170,000 in cash, 64kg of silver bullion worth an estimated $55,000, and two ounces of gold bullion worth an estimated $5000.
Detectives also seized documentation and electronic items, which will be subject to further examination.
A 49-year-old man was arrested at the Kirrawee home and taken to Sutherland Police Station, where he was charged with 18 counts of provide designated remittance service while unregistered (under the Anti-Money Laundering and Counter-Terrorism Financing Act 2006), drive motor vehicle while licence suspended, two counts of goods in personal custody suspected being stolen, and two counts of deal with property proceeds of crime greater than $100,000.
About 1pm, a 40-year-old man was arrested outside Sutherland Police Station, and subsequently charged with 41 counts of provide designated remittance service while unregistered (under the Anti-Money Laundering and Counter-Terrorism Financing Act 2006), deal with property proceeds of crime greater than $10,000, and goods in personal custody suspected being stolen.
Police will allege in court that the men facilitated a number of financial transfers to overseas accounts, despite not being registered with AUSTRAC to provide this service.
Both men were refused bail to appear at Sutherland Local Court today (Wednesday 18 November 2020).
Sutherland Shire Police Area Command Crime Manager, Detective Inspector Andrea Panozzo, said the NSW Police Force will continue to work with its partners to ensure anyone involved in the illegal movement of currency will be put before the courts.
“We will allege these men were responsible for the illegal transfer of more than $2.3 million into offshore accounts,” Det Insp Panozzo said.
“Make no mistake, this is a large-scale co-ordinated criminal enterprise we have successfully disrupted today.
“Let this be a warning to financial providers – if you are not operating within the law, and/or you fail to comply with your reporting obligations, your actions will not go unnoticed.”
AUSTRAC Deputy CEO of Regulation, Education and Policy, Mr Peter Soros, said that the arrests show that AUSTRAC and its law enforcement partners won’t hesitate to take action against criminal attempts to exploit the financial sector.
“We have a strong regulatory framework in place to ensure that we prevent criminals from taking advantage of financial services businesses and to prevent criminal activity like fraud and money laundering,” he said.
“Registered remittance businesses are an important partner for AUSTRAC in combatting crime, through having systems and processes in place to manage money laundering risks.”
In 2019/20, $72 billion was transferred into and out of Australia using registered money transfer services, which amounted to 21.7 million transactions reported to AUSTRAC through Australia’s registered remittance sector.
“This case highlights the importance of the community being vigilant of the businesses they use when sending money overseas,” Mr Soros said.
People can check a business is registered with AUSTRAC and report suspected unregistered remittance dealers at austrac.gov.au.
Investigations under Strike Force Royala remain ongoing.