A 39-year-old man has been stripped of approximately $1-million worth of assets, including land, vehicles, motorbikes, a fishing boat and cash, as a result of WA Supreme Court orders following an unexplained wealth investigation by the Australian Federal Police (AFP).
The Criminal Assets Confiscation Taskforce (CACT) launched Operation Enguri in May 2016 over suspicions the WA man had no legitimate source of income, but owned two properties, vehicles and a boat, and was spending hundreds of thousands of dollars a year on his lifestyle.
Man agreed to forfeit his assets
After an extensive investigation, and civil court proceedings led by the CACT’s litigators, the overwhelming evidence presented to the man and his legal representatives was such that he agreed to forfeit his assets to the Commonwealth. Court orders were obtained on 23 October 2020.
Police suspect the man, from the northern Perth suburb of Landsdale, has links to organised crime networks operating in Perth and is criminally associated with multiple Outlaw Motorcycle Crime Gangs (OMCGs).
Targeting the criminal economy by confiscating criminal assets, and removing the profit from crime, is one of a number of strategies deployed by the AFP and its partners to disrupt organised crime and deliver maximum damage to the criminal environment.
No related criminal prosecution
The Commonwealth’s proceeds of crime laws provide powerful tools for the restraint of both proceeds and instruments of crime, as well as financial penalty and unexplained wealth orders, based on a civil standard of proof.
These laws can also operate when there is no related criminal investigation or prosecution, as was the case in this unexplained wealth investigation.
AFP CACT acting national manager, Stefan Jerga, said this case sends a clear warning to those trying to hide their criminality, or live a lifestyle they cannot lawfully justify.
Trust structure to hide assets
“If you accumulate wealth that you cannot explain and link to lawful sources, law enforcement will target your assets,” he said. “Where you try to disguise your criminal conduct or the true ownership of your assets, the AFP and its partners will outsmart you,” he said.
Investigations revealed the man had a trust structure set up in a bid to hide his assets and was using family members and other associates to make funds appear legitimate.
Between mid-2010 and early 2017 the man’s assets were valued in the millions. Yet he declared a total taxable income between 2010 and 2016 of just $140,502.