AUSTRAC and NSW Police have issued a warning to financial providers, following charges laid for two men as part of ongoing investigations into an international money-laundering operation.
Two men have been arrested in South Sydney and the police will allege in court that they were responsible for the illegal transfer of more than $2.3 million into offshore accounts.
Sutherland Shire Police Area Command crime manager and detective inspector Andrea Panozzo commented: “Make no mistake, this is a large-scale co-ordinated criminal enterprise we have successfully disrupted today.
“Let this be a warning to financial providers – if you are not operating within the law, and or you fail to comply with your reporting obligations, your actions will not go unnoticed.”
Strike force investigators executed two search warrants at homes in Cronulla and Kirrawee, Sydney at around 8am on Tuesday.
During the searches, officers seized more than $170,000 in cash, 64 kilograms of silver bullion worth an estimated $55,000 and two ounces of gold bullion worth an estimated $5,000.
Detectives also seized documentation and electronic items, which are being further examined.
A 49-year-old man was arrested at the Kirrawee home and taken to Sutherland Police Station, where he was charged with 18 counts of providing designated remittance services while unregistered (under the Anti-Money Laundering and Counter-Terrorism Financing Act 2006).
He was also charged with driving a motor vehicle with a suspended licence, two counts of goods in personal custody suspected of being stolen and two counts of dealing with property proceeds of crime greater than $100,000.
At around 1pm, the second man, aged 40, was arrested outside Sutherland Police Station, subsequently charged with 41 counts of providing designated remittance services while unregistered, dealing with property proceeds of crime greater than $10,000, and goods in personal custody suspected of being stolen.
Police will allege in court that the men facilitated a number of financial transfers to overseas accounts, despite not being registered with AUSTRAC to provide the service.
Both men were refused bail, appearing at Sutherland Local Court on Wednesday.
In 2019/20, $72 billion was transferred into and out of Australia using registered money transfer services, which amounted to 21.7 million transactions reported to AUSTRAC through Australia’s registered remittance sector.
Officers attached to Sutherland Police Area Command established Strike Force Royala in June to investigate a criminal syndicate responsible for a number of fraud-related matters and the illegal transfer of a substantial amount of funds to offshore accounts in June.
AUSTRAC, along with the Cybercrime Squad and Financial Crimes Squad has also assisted Strike Force Royala. Its investigations are ongoing.