Proceeds of Crime

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The Proceeds of Crime Act 2002

The Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 (the Act) was passed on 11 October 2002 and came into operation on 1 January 2003.

The Act provides a scheme to trace, restrain and confiscate the proceeds of crime against Commonwealth law. In some circumstances it can also be used to confiscate the proceeds of crime against foreign law or the proceeds of crime against State law (if those proceeds have been used in a way that contravenes Commonwealth law).

The Act also provides a scheme that allows confiscated funds to be given back to the Australian community in an endeavour to prevent and reduce the harmful effects of crime in Australia.

Criminal Assets Confiscation Taskforce

Launch

Launched in January 2011, the Criminal Assets Confiscation Taskforce (CACT) was formed to enhance the identification and pursuit of potential criminal asset confiscation matters.

The AFP led taskforce is a Commonwealth initiative dedicated to taking the profit out of crime by targeting criminals and their assets derived from criminal activity.

Taking the profit out of crime

The multi-agency Criminal Assets Confiscation Taskforce provides a coordinated and integrated approach to identifying and removing the profits derived from serious and organised criminal activity.

Led by the Australian Federal Police (AFP) and utilising the resources from the Australian Crime Commission (ACC) and the Australian Taxation Office (ATO), the Taskforce has stepped up the government's fight against organised crime through a more intensive targeting of criminals' accumulated wealth.

Employing a proactive and innovative approach, the Taskforce uses intelligence, operations, legal, policy and other specialist resources from all participating agencies working together to 'take the profit out of crime'.

The Taskforce is managed from AFP headquarters in Canberra, with regional taskforce investigation and litigation teams located in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Perth and Canberra.

It has the resources and ability to identify and pursue criminal assets and also works in partnership with relevant Commonwealth, State, Territory and international law enforcement agencies to identify, investigate and litigate appropriate asset confiscation matters at the Commonwealth level.

Utilising an integrated approach, the Taskforce focuses on the development of the most effective and appropriate whole-of-government enforcement strategies on a case-by-case basis.

These strategies can include criminal asset confiscation action, the referral of matters to the ATO for the application of taxation remedies, other Commonwealth processes such as debt recovery action, or recovery through State and Territory or foreign law enforcement agencies.

The funds from confiscated assets are deposited into the Confiscated Assets Account, which is managed by the Australian Financial Security Authority (AFSA) on behalf of the Commonwealth.

The funds can be used to benefit the community through crime prevention, intervention or diversion programs or other law enforcement initiatives. The Attorney-General's Department support the Minister in managing programs of expenditure from the Confiscated Assets Account (www.ag.gov.au).

For more information about the agencies involved in the Taskforce visit:

For more information about Proceeds of Crime visit:

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the Taskforce?

A: The Criminal Assets Confiscation Taskforce brings together resources from the Australian Federal Police (AFP), Australian Crime Commission (ACC) and the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) with the aim of enhancing the identification and pursuit of criminal wealth, where there is a link to a Commonwealth offence.

Why has the Taskforce been established?

A: The Taskforce has been established to target criminal wealth in support of the Commonwealth Organised Crime Strategic Framework. It has been estimated that organised crime costs Australia between $10-$15 billion dollars every year, representing a significant threat to Australian society. Organised criminal syndicates have become more business-like in their approach to laundering money and acquiring assets. A key focus of the Taskforce is to maximise the impact of law enforcement resources by targeting the unexplained wealth and identified proceeds of crime from domestic and transnational criminal enterprises, with the combined efforts of investigation and litigation undertaken by the AFP.

Who leads the Taskforce?

A: The AFP is the lead and host agency contributing investigators, forensic accountants, specialised lawyers and litigation assistants as well as a management and support structure.

How do the Taskforce agencies work together?

A: The Taskforce is managed from AFP headquarters in Canberra with regional teams housed in Brisbane, Sydney, Melbourne, Perth and Canberra.

The ATO and ACC are participating members who contributes specialised tax officers to provide financial analysis support for taskforce investigations.

The ATO also provides support to the taskforce through specific, dedicated auditing staff who – where the ATO considers it is appropriate –take action on matters referred by the taskforce.

The ACC provides co-located officers within the Taskforce and provides ongoing support through its National Criminal Intelligence Fusion Centre and Financial Intelligence Assessment Team. The ACC identifies targets and provides strategic advice on money-flows that impact on Australia.

What strategies does the Taskforce pursue?

A: The Taskforce:

  • employs a dynamic, integrated approach to criminal asset confiscation utilising intelligence, operations, legal and other specialist resources
  • utilises a proactive intelligence-led approach for the identification of potential criminal asset confiscation matters
  • focuses on the development of the most effective and appropriate enforcement strategy for each individual case.

Does the Taskforce work with other Commonwealth, state and territory and international law enforcement agencies?

A: The Taskforce works in partnership with other relevant law enforcement and regulatory agencies in order to identify, investigate, and litigate appropriate asset confiscation matters at the Commonwealth level.

What types of assets can be targeted by the Taskforce?

A: Under the Commonwealth asset confiscation regime, any type of asset can potentially be subject to confiscation if it is the 'proceeds' or an 'instrument' of a Commonwealth offence. Property derived from State or Territory offences is usually required to be dealt with under the relevant State or Territory confiscation regime.

A wide variety of assets have been subject to Commonwealth confiscation action in recent years including, but not limited to; cash, real estate and commercial property, share portfolios, luxury cars, jewellery, motorcycles, light planes, jet-skis, sail and motor boats, artwork and other collectibles.

Where do the proceeds of crime go?

A: All confiscated money, and the funds derived from the sale of confiscated assets, are returned to the Commonwealth and placed into the Confiscated Assets Account, which is managed by the Australian Financial Security Authority (AFSA) on behalf of the Commonwealth.

With approval by the Minister, those funds are then reinvested into the community through a variety of means including local crime prevention, law enforcement, drug treatment and diversionary measures across Australia.

There are also provisions for the Australian Government to approve the sharing of confiscated funds with other jurisdictions including overseas in recognition of their effort involved in joint investigations or prosecutions of unlawful activity.

What are the steps in removing proceeds of crime?

A: The Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 (the Act) provides a scheme to trace, restrain and confiscate the proceeds of crime against Commonwealth law. In some circumstances, it can also be used to confiscate the proceeds of crime against foreign law or the proceeds of crime against State law (if those proceeds have been used in a way that contravenes Commonwealth law).

Removing the proceeds of crime is a complex process which generally follows these steps:

1. Substantiation of unlawful conduct and property identification (Investigation)

The responsibility for investigating cases and collecting evidence rests with Commonwealth investigative agencies like the AFP. An investigative agency locates and collects the evidence and other material required to pursue the proceeds of crime.

2. Restraint of property

In many cases, though not all, a court order (restraining order) is required to preserve property pending the outcome of confiscation proceedings. This order prohibits the disposal of property, or ability to deal with property, either absolutely or subject to conditions. In appropriate cases, the court may also order that restrained property be taken into the custody and control of the Official Trustee in Bankruptcy on behalf of the Commonwealth.

In some situations the Act provides that property cannot be confiscated unless it has previously been subject to a restraining order. In other instances confiscation can proceed without restraining orders previously having been made.

3. Confiscation of property

Confiscation is the end of the legal process and usually involves a court order that specific property be confiscated to 'the Commonwealth'. Confiscation proceedings can be contested and often require that further investigations be conducted by the investigating agency to support the litigation proceedings.

4. Disposal of confiscated property

Once property has been officially confiscated, the Australian Financial Security Authority will then liquidate the property and bank the proceeds into the Confiscated Assets Account established by the POC Act 2002.

How does the Taskforce support the Commonwealth's Organised Crime Strategic Framework?

A: The work of the Taskforce complements other Government measures designed to disrupt and deter serious and organised crime. The Taskforce focuses on removing the proceeds and instruments of crime. Through its operations, it supports the key capabilities identified in the Commonwealth Organised Crime Strategic Framework, in particular targeting the criminal economy, and promoting a focus on intelligence, information sharing and interoperability.

Visit the Attorney General's website for more information on the Commonwealth Organised Crime Strategic Framework.