Project Wickenby Dismantles $100 Million Money Laundering Scheme

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28th April 2008, 03:06pm - Views: 491





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Monday, 28 April 2008 



Media Release



Project Wickenby dismantles $100 million money

laundering scheme

 

The Australian Federal Police (AFP) today arrested and charged a 58-year-old

man over a $100 million offshore money laundering scheme, the third major

arrest by members of the Project Wickenby taskforce.  


Federal agents arrested the man in Perth this morning, while search warrants

were also executed in Sydney, Vanuatu and New Zealand.


The Australian expatriate from Vanuatu will appear in the Perth Central Law

Courts today, where authorities will ask for his extradition to face three fraud

and money laundering charges in Sydney.  


In cooperation with the AFP, law enforcement authorities in Vanuatu and New

Zealand have also taken action to close down a number of separate multi-

million dollar money laundering schemes operating between the countries.


AFP Manager Economic Warren Gray said today's arrest showed that

Australian authorities are serious about tackling money laundering linked to

organised criminal activity, including major tax evasion.


"Our investigation has identified a number of offshore money laundering

schemes, through which Australian earnings are transferred to overseas

financial institutions, claimed as a business expense and later returned to

Australia in the form of an interest-free loan," Commander Gray said.


"We continue to work closely with our partner agencies in New Zealand and

the Vanuatu Police Force to identify trans-national crime and prosecute those

people responsible."


The AFP investigation began following a referral in 2006 from the Australian

Tax Office (ATO), which is investigating offshore tax evasion schemes.


It will be alleged that in excess of $100 million has been moved through foreign

accounts since 2000. In relation to the three charges laid against the 58-year-

old man, the total amount of unpaid Australian tax will allegedly exceed $13

million. It is alleged he earned $1.4 million in commissions from the scheme.


This investigation is one of several being conducted as part of Project

Wickenby, Australia’s largest-ever tax fraud investigation.  


Project Wickenby is a whole-of-government taskforce set up in 2006 to

investigate tax avoidance, tax evasion and large-scale money laundering.


Visit our website at www.afp.gov.au for all the latest information on the Australian

Federal Police


Commander Gray warned there would be many more prosecutions to come

as a result of the Project Wickenby taskforce.

 

“To date the AFP has executed 159 search warrants and issued 82 notices

under proceeds of crime legislation," he said.


The Tax Office is conducting 80 audits examining schemes linked to Vanuatu

and has already identified over $90 million in allegedly false deductions.


The five key Project Wickenby agencies, the ATO, ACC, AFP, the Australian

Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) and the Commonwealth

Director of Public Prosecutions (CDPP) are closely supported by the Australian

Government Solicitor and the Australian Transaction Reports and Analysis

Centre (AUSTRAC) which provided valuable financial intelligence towards this

operation.


The 58-year-old man has been charged with conspiracy to defraud, contrary

to section 86(2) with section 29(D) of the Crimes Act 1914, conspiracy to

defraud – causing a loss to the ATO contrary to section 135.4(3) of the

Criminal Code Act 1995 and money laundering valued at more than AUD$1

million contrary to sections 11.5(1) with section 400.3(1) of the Criminal Code

Act 1995.


These offences carry maximum penalties of 10 years and 25 years

imprisonment.


Media enquiries

AFP National Media Team     

Phone: (02) 6275 7100






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