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
Attorney-General Robert McClelland and Minister for Home Affairs and Justice Brendan O'Connor together with Commissioner Tony Negus have officially launched the new multi-agency Criminal Assets Confiscation Taskforce.
Announced by the Australian Government during the 2010 election campaign, the AFP led taskforce is a Commonwealth initiative dedicated to taking the profit out of crime by targeting criminals and their assets derived from unexplained wealth.
The official launch took place in a Brisbane aircraft hangar where an assortment of restrained luxury items, including planes, cars motorbikes and jet skis were on display for the assembled media.
View the launch video
Taking the profit out of crime
A new multi-agency Criminal Assets Confiscation Taskforce has been established to provide a more coordinated and integrated approach to identifying and removing the profits derived from organised criminal activity.
Led by the Australian Federal Police (AFP) and utilising the resources from the Australian Crime Commission (ACC), the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) and the Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions (CDPP), 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'.
It has been estimated that organised crime costs the Australian community between and $10 and $15 billion dollars a year and in recognising the need for a unified national response, in 2010 the Australian Government pledged a new approach through an innovative level of collaboration.
The Taskforce is managed from AFP headquarters in Canberra, with regional taskforce teams located in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and Perth.
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 will focus 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 Insolvency Trustee Service of Australia (ITSA) 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.
For more information about the agencies involved in the Taskforce 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), Australian Taxation Office (ATO) and the Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions (CDPP) with the aim of enhancing the identification and pursuit of the profits of organised crime, where there is a link to a Commonwealth offence.
Why has the Taskforce been established?
A: The Taskforce has been established as a Commonwealth-level measure to address the threat posed by organised crime. 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.
Who will lead the Taskforce?
A: The AFP is the lead agency and will contribute 68 members to the Taskforce including its existing Financial Investigations Teams which include forensic accountants and financial investigations, as well as a management and support structure.
How will the Taskforce agencies work together?
A: The Taskforce will be managed from AFP headquarters in Canberra with regional teams housed in Brisbane, Sydney, Melbourne, Perth and Canberra.
The ATO has committed to contributing five tax officers into the taskforce teams to provide financial analysis support for taskforce investigations.
The ATO will also provide support to the taskforce through specific, dedicated auditing staff who – where the ATO considers it is appropriate – will take action on matters referred by the taskforce.
The ACC will co-locate six officers within the Taskforce and also provide ongoing support through its Money Laundering Determination and the National Criminal Intelligence Fusion Centre. The ACC will identify targets and provide strategic advice on money-flows that impact on Australia. The ACC will also provide further support from its ACC-based teams.
The CDPP will independently undertake litigation under the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002.
What strategies will the Taskforce adopt?
A: The Taskforce will:
- Employ a dynamic, integrated approach to criminal asset confiscation utilising intelligence, operations, legal and other specialist resources.
- Utilise a proactive intelligence-led approach for the identification of potential criminal asset confiscation matters.
- Focus on the development of the most effective and appropriate enforcement strategy for each individual case.
Will the Taskforce work with other Commonwealth, state and territory and international law enforcement agencies?
A: The Taskforce will work 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, 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 Insolvency Trustee Service of Australia (ITSA) 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 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, the CDPP will apply for a court order (restraining order) in order 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 by 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 undertaken by the CDPP.
4. Disposal of confiscated property
Once property has been officially confiscated, ITSA will then liquidate the property and bank the proceeds into the Confiscated Assets Account established by the POC Act 2002.
How will the Taskforce support the Commonwealth's Organised Crime Strategic Framework?
A: The work of the Taskforce will complement other Government measures designed to disrupt and deter serious and organised crime. The Taskforce is focussed 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