Three arrested and $3.7m in assets seized in Melbourne

Three people were arrested in Melbourne by the Australian Federal Police (AFP) this morning for alleged migration offences as part of an ongoing Australian Border Force (ABF) investigation.

The AFP-led (AFP) Criminal Assets Confiscation Taskforce (CACT) also seized more than $3.7 million in assets related to the investigation.

Two men and one woman appeared in court today charged under the Migration Act 1958 with facilitating employment of unlawful non-citizens and lawful non-citizens with no work rights. They were also charged with dealing with proceeds of crime.

ABF Commander Investigations, Graeme Grosse, said the arrest follows a 2016 ABF investigation under Taskforce Cadena that saw 61 unlawful non-citizens located and detained and an additional 28 people working at the farm in breach of their visa conditions, totalling 89 people located.

“Evidence gathered during that operation has led to a broader investigation, culminating in today’s arrest of an alleged criminal syndicate that has been profiting from the serious exploitation of foreign workers and Australia’s migration system.

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“The ABF and the partner agencies will continue to target foreign worker exploitation and visa fraud by applying the full spectrum of enforcement measures, ranging from education and compliance activities through to criminal prosecution,” Commander Grosse said.

The assets restrained include one commercial and three residential properties collectively valued at $2.95 million, a 2015 Mercedes SUV, two bank accounts containing a total of $230,000, and approximately $580,000 in cash.

The order to restrain the assets was made under the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 in relation to alleged migration and money laundering offences.

AFP Fraud and Anti-corruption Acting Commander Kate Ferry said targeting assets allowed authorities to remove the profit motivation that drives most criminal activity.

“When you take the profit out of crime, you hit offenders where it hurts most,” Commander Ferry said.

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“This latest $3.7m seizure adds to the $78.5 million in criminal assets confiscated by the AFP and its partners in 2017-18 and reinforces that there is a comprehensive scheme to trace, restrain and confiscate the proceeds of crime.”

The multi-agency CACT has primary responsibility for the investigation and litigation of Commonwealth proceeds of crime matters. CACT is led by the AFP and includes representatives from the AFP, the Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission (ACIC) and the Australian Taxation Office (ATO), with additional support from the ABF and AUSTRAC.

The focus of CACT is to prevent the reinvestment of criminal profits and remove the benefits derived from crime by tracing, restraining and confiscating such proceeds of crime. The Taskforce also includes expert Litigators and Forensic Accountants.

The men and woman appeared in Melbourne Magistrates Court earlier today.

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