AFP-led Criminal Assets Confiscation Taskforce marks another big year

An AFP officer observes a seized silver vehicle being loaded onto a tow truck

Editor’s note: Images of the seized assets are available via Hightail.

The AFP has continued striking at the core of organised crime by restraining more than $160 million worth of ill-gotten gains in 2022.

During 2022, the AFP-led Criminal Assets Confiscation Taskforce (CACT) seized millions in items linked to drugs, money laundering, fraud, corruption, firearms trafficking and cybercrime offences.

Seizures included over $44 million in cash and other financial instruments, more than $108 million in property, over $2.5 million in jewellery, artwork and other valuables and about $4.2 million in vehicles and other vessels.

Operational highlights over the year included the CACT restraining:

  • Eight ACT properties, four high-end vehicles, luxury goods, cash and cryptocurrencies, totalling approximately $10 million, in an international money laundering investigation.
  • A warehouse full of classic cars, cash and gold bullion linked to a Sydney man sentenced to 11 years’ imprisonment for importing 144 kilograms of cocaine.
  • Four Sydney properties, as well as funds in bank accounts, under the control of a person suspected of aiding and abetting importations of methamphetamine with an estimated street value of $140 million.
  • Properties, luxury vehicles, cash and casino chips under the control of a man suspected of involvement in importing border-controlled drugs.
  • Properties controlled by a syndicate suspected of committing fraud against various Commonwealth measures which support the community, including the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS).
  • Seized cash and 13 properties, and other items with a combined value of approximately $23 million, linked to a money laundering organisation. 
  • A Cessna 340 plane used by an organised crime syndicate to traffic firearms across state borders.

The CACT also continues to litigate matters linked to Operation Ironside, with approximately $64 million in criminal assets restrained to date. Including the collective efforts of other Australian law enforcement partners, the national restraint figure for Operation Ironside approximately $110 million.

AFP National Manager for Criminal Assets Confiscation, Stefan Jerga, commended all in the CACT for another very successful year.

“Our highly skilled and dedicated Australia-wide teams of police, financial investigators, forensic accountants, litigators and partner agency specialists are to be commended on their outstanding efforts again this year” he said.

“The CACT will continue to be relentless in our pursuit of criminal assets and diverting criminal wealth into initiatives that make our communities safer and stronger”.

The CACT, which marked its first decade of operation this year, has seized more than $600 million in the past three years, which was ahead of a five-year target to reach that mark set by Commissioner Reece Kershaw.

The proceeds of confiscated assets are placed into the Commonwealth’s Confiscated Assets Account (CAA) and are re-directed by the Attorney-General into crime prevention, law enforcement and other community related initiatives.

Examples of programs funded by the CAA include: Neighbourhood Watch Australasia; the National DNA Program for Unidentified and Missing Persons; ACIC Regional and remote wastewater testing pilot; and ThinkUKnow online child safety education program.

Led by the AFP, the CACT brings together the resources and expertise of the AFP, Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission, Australian Taxation Office, AUSTRAC and the Australian Border Force. Together, these agencies trace, restrain and ultimately confiscate criminal assets. 

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