The Melbourne Supreme Court today ordered the forfeiture of three Victorian properties worth $4.2 million to the Commonwealth. This is the first forfeiture action under the Joint Agency Arrangement (JAA) between the Australian Federal Police (AFP) and the Ministry of Public Security of the People’s Republic of China on economic crime cooperation (MPS).
The properties were seized by the AFP Criminal Assets Confiscation Taskforce (CACT) on November 22, 2018, as part of a proceeds of crime investigation into offshore assets allegedly laundered in Australia by Chinese citizens.
The properties include homes in the Melbourne areas of Glen Waverley and Southbank, as well as a $1.5 million business site in Oakleigh South.
The assets were listed in court as being owned by a Chinese national working under a false identity. Following that, the 32-year-old fled Australia and is thought to have gone to the Caribbean.
The properties were the subject of a restraining order issued by the Commonwealth under the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002. These criminal proceeds are linked to the following offences: Contravening section 400.9 of the Criminal Code 1995 (Cth), dealing with property reasonably suspected of being proceeds of crime; providing a reporting entity with false or misleading information in contravention of section 136(1) of the Anti-Money Laundering and Counter-Terrorism Financing Act 2006 (Cth); and providing a reporting organisation with false or misleading papers in violation of section 137(1) of the Anti-Money Laundering and Counter-Terrorism Financing Act 2006. (Cth).
Today marks six months after the first restraining order was issued, and the assets were officially forfeited to the Commonwealth in the absence of any proceedings initiated by the respondent.
The proceeds from the sale of the properties will be deposited in the Confiscated Assets Account, which is handled on behalf of the Commonwealth by the Australian Financial Security Authority (AFSA).
The money can be put to good use in the community by supporting criminal prevention, intervention, and diversion programmes, as well as other law enforcement activities.
The AFP’s relationship with the MPS and their continuous close collaboration under the Joint Agency Arrangement on Economic Crime Cooperation is highlighted by this operation.