As a member of a task force investigating criminal activity on Victoria’s waterfront, AUSTRAC played a key role in the conviction of several offenders who were laundering money for a crime syndicate that was importing illicit drugs into Australia.
What to look out for
- Bulk cash collections.
- Use of multiple third parties, namely students, to conduct multiple same-day ‘structured’ cash deposits at various financial institutions and locations.
- Use of offsetting to facilitate the movement of proceeds of crime.
Trident Task Force – a joint-agency task force involving AUSTRAC, Australian Federal Police, Australian Border Force, Victoria Police, Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission and the Australian Taxation Office – was set up to identify, deter and disrupt serious and organised crime on Victoria’s waterfront.
As part of an investigation into an international crime syndicate suspected of shipping illegal drugs into Victoria, Trident members discovered almost 100kg of cocaine hidden inside a container that arrived on a cargo ship from Panama.
During the investigation, AUSTRAC worked within the task force to identify suspicious activities including bulk cash collections and drop-offs, remittances and other transactions. These activities were analysed in conjunction with other information from the task force for indicators consistent with money laundering associated with the drug importation and trafficking.
Law enforcement arrested seven people for drug and money laundering offences. They also seized A$1.2 million in cash and property worth A$800,000.
The primary syndicate members were found guilty and sentenced to between one and four years in prison.
How business reporting helped
- Large cash transactions inconsistent with customer profile
- Large remittances from personal accounts not associated with legitimate business activity
- Large remittances to high-risk jurisdictions
- Identification of associates through transaction reporting
- Proactive data exploitation to surface previously unknown links.
AUSTRAC’s financial intelligence helped identify the syndicate members involved in money laundering, which led to their arrest and imprisonment.