A 37-year-old man was sentenced to 12 months’ jail by the Perth District Court yesterday (Tuesday, 8 February 2022) following an investigation into more than $1 million cash and three luxury vehicles suspected to be the proceeds of crime.
The Mount Pleasant man had pleaded guilty in July 2021 to dealing in property suspected of being the proceeds of crime, as well as a second offence of failing to give police access to an encrypted phone.
He and another man, a 33-year-old from South Perth, were arrested in November 2020 as part of a joint investigation by the Australian Federal Police, Australian Border Force (ABF) and AUSTRAC into alleged drug trafficking and money laundering. Link to initial media release here
Police seized approximately $1 million cash, a white 2010 Bentley coupe and two 2016 Mercedes Benz sedans during warrants executed on the two men and at several properties, including the men’s homes in Mount Pleasant and South Perth, in November 2020.
The 37-year-old was charged over:
• $15,000 cash found on the kitchen bench at his Mt Pleasant home;
• $480,000 packed in vacuum-sealed bags inside a duffle bag, which police found in a cupboard at the home of his then girlfriend, where he had hidden it a few days earlier;
• Almost $495,000, which was found in a tool bag in a guest bedroom at another property connected to him, where he had organised for it to be stored;
• A Bentley coupe and two Mercedes Benz sedans. One of the cars was found at his apartment, the other two at associates’ homes.
The 33-year-old man was charged over $12,000 cash found in a backpack in the rental car the two men were in when police arrested them, as well as another $7000 found at his house.
The cash and the proceeds from the sale of the three cars has been forfeited to the Commonwealth after a separate investigation by the AFP-led Criminal Assets Confiscation Taskforce.
AFP Commander Western Command John Tanti said some offenders see going to jail as the cost of doing criminal business but they dislike losing their criminal wealth.
“Unexplained sources of wealth are often a sign of underlying criminal activity and the AFP is committed to working with its partners to ensure offenders aren’t able to profit from exploiting the wider community,” he said.
“Our strategy ensures that when offenders have served their prison sentence they do not come home to enjoy their criminal wealth, property portfolio, cars, boats and jewellery all paid for by the proceeds of crime.”
AUSTRAC National Manager Intelligence Operations Michael Tink said: “the sentencing outcomes highlight AUSTRAC’s use of financial intelligence to detect financial crime like money laundering, and speaks to the effectiveness of our collaboration with law enforcement partners to disrupt crime and protect the community”.
The funds forfeited to the Commonwealth are deposited into the Confiscated Assets Account, and redistributed by Minister for Home Affairs Karen Andrews to support crime prevention, law enforcement and related community initiatives.
The 37-year-old can be released after six months’ behind bars on a $2000, eight-month recognizance release order.
The 33-year-old man was sentenced to nine months’ jail in September 2021 after he pleaded guilty to possessing cash suspected to be the proceeds of crime. He also pleaded guilty to failing to obey a data access order by refusing to provide police access to the contents of his encrypted phone.