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AUSTRAC information revealed extent of people smuggling operation

Image of people smuggling boat

AUSTRAC information assisted authorities with an investigation which disrupted an international people smuggling operation, resulting in the arrest of two Australia-based facilitators.

The two suspects received sentences of five years imprisonment and eleven-and-a-half years imprisonment respectively.

Law enforcement officers established that the people smuggling syndicate used boats to illegally transport foreign nationals from Indonesia to Australia. Authorities suspected that the syndicate members were in contact with Australia-based associates to organise the people smuggling operation.

Authorities alleged that suspects A and B were key players in the people smuggling syndicate, responsible for planning and facilitating the unlawful arrivals into Australia. The majority of prospective customers were Iraqi and Iranian nationals and the syndicate allegedly charged between AUD4,500 and AUD10,000 per person.

AUSTRAC analysis of financial transaction reports showed that over a five-year period suspect B sent 28 international funds transfer instructions (IFTIs) out of Australia totalling more than AUD42,000. The IFTIs were primarily sent to Indonesia.

The IFTIs undertaken by suspect B were conducted via remittance service providers for low-value transfers of between AUD100 and 5,000. A small number of the IFTIs were sent with payment details describing them as 'gift' or 'personal'.

AUSTRAC information also included threshold transaction reports (TTRs) which showed that:

  • over a two-month period, bank accounts held in the name of suspect B received two cash deposits totalling more than AUD37,000
  • over a one-year period, suspect B made four large cash withdrawals totalling more than AUD57,000. The cash withdrawals were conducted at various bank branches and were conducted on separate days.

AUSTRAC information indicated that suspect B also sent and received IFTIs while in Indonesia. AUSTRAC's financial intelligence database recorded suspect B as:

  • an Indonesia-based 'ordering' customer, sending three IFTIs to Australia from Indonesia over a 10-day period, totalling more than AUD7,000. The 'details of payment' section of the IFTI report for these transactions was left blank by suspect B. 
  • an Indonesia-based beneficiary, indicating he received six IFTIs totalling more than AUD20,000 sent from Australia to Indonesia over a two-month period.

Law enforcement officers executed 10 search warrants across Victoria and New South Wales, with authorities seizing documents and computers, resulting in the arrests of suspects A and B.

Suspect A was charged with facilitating the proposed entry into Australia of a group of at least five non-citizens and providing material support to a person to engage in people smuggling activities contrary to the Migration Act 1958.

Suspect A was also charged with importing and possessing a marketable quantity of a border-controlled drug, namely methamphetamine, contrary to the Criminal Code Act 1995 (Cwlth). It was alleged the drugs were sent via post to Australia from the Middle East and had an estimated street value of AUD750,000. He was sentenced to prison for eleven-and-a-half years for all offences.

Suspect B was charged with people smuggling contrary to the Migration Act 1958. He was found guilty of aggravated people smuggling and was sentenced to five years imprisonment.

Offence
  • Drug importation
  • People smuggling
Customer Individual
Industry
  • Banking (ADIs)
  • Remittance services
Channel Electronic
Report type
  • IFTI
  • TTR
Jurisdiction Domestic and international – Indonesia
Designated service
  • Account and deposit-taking services
  • Remittance services (money transfers)
Indicators
  • Cash withdrawals conducted over multiple days
  • Customer undertaking transactions that appear inconsistent with their profile and/or transaction history
  • Multiple electronic transfers from third parties
  • Multiple international funds transfers to a country of interest to authorities
  • Multiple low-value international value transfers
  • Unusually large volume of cash deposits and withdrawals
Last modified: 30/07/2015 15:36