Proceeds of crime

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 returned to the Australian community in an effort 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 CACT 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 CACT provides a coordinated and integrated approach to identifying and removing the profits derived from serious and organised criminal activity.

Led and hosted by the Australian Federal Police (AFP) and utilising the resources from the Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission (ACIC), the Australian Taxation Office (ATO), AUSTRAC (Australian Transaction Reports and Analysis Centre) and the Australian Border Force (ABF), the CACT 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 CACT uses intelligence, operations, legal, policy and other specialist resources from its participating agencies to 'take the profit out of crime' and deliver maximum impact to the criminal environment.

The CACT is managed from the AFP's national headquarters in Canberra, with regional investigation and litigation teams located in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Perth and Canberra.

It has the resources and ability to identify and pursue criminal assets, also working 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 CACT 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 Department of Home Affairs support the Minister in managing programs of expenditure from the Confiscated Assets Account.

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

For more information about Proceeds of Crime visit:

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the CACT?

The Criminal Assets Confiscation Taskforce brings together resources from the AFP, ACIC, ATO, AUSTRAC and ABF with the aim of enhancing the identification and pursuit of criminal wealth, where there is a link to a Commonwealth offence.

Why was the CACT established?

The CACT was established to target criminal wealth in support of the Commonwealth Organised Crime Strategic Framework. At the time of it establishment, it was estimated that organised crime was costing 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 CACT 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 CACT?

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 CACT agencies work together?

The ATO, as a participating agency, contributes specialised tax officers to provide financial analysis support for CACT investigations.

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

The Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission provides co-located officers within the CACT, and assists with target identification of criminal asset confiscation opportunities regarding transnational, serious and organised crime groups. The ACIC is Australia's national criminal intelligence agency, and is the conduit for sharing criminal intelligence between Commonwealth, State and Territory law enforcement agencies.

AUSTRAC is the Australian Government agency responsible for detecting, deterring and disrupting criminal abuse of the financial system through strong regulation and enhanced intelligence capabilities. AUSTRAC collects and analyses financial information and other information sources, to produce financial intelligence related to threats against Australia's national security and crimes including money laundering, drug trafficking, child exploitation and fraud.

Financial intelligence is recognised as a critical component to identifying assets for restraint and forfeiture. AUSTRAC contributes financial intelligence analysts to the Taskforce who operate in AFP State offices. These analysts bring AUSTRAC's specialist expertise to reveal the financial flows, money laundering structures and assets of complex criminal networks, enhancing the Taskforce's investigation capabilities.

The ABF has been an informal partner agency of the CACT for a number of years, and its status as a participating agency is currently being formalised. The ABF assists the CACT to better understand Australia's challenging border control and enforcement environment, and provides the CACT with additional information-gathering capabilities and is a source of asset confiscation opportunities, including in relation to human trafficking, illicit tobacco and excise avoidance matters.

What strategies does the CACT pursue?

The CACT:

  • employs an integrated approach to leverage its diverse skill sets;
  • develops relationships with domestic and international partners and private industry;
  • applies the most effective and appropriate enforcement strategy for each individual case; and
  • deploys its resources in support of strategic initiatives, which tackle priority and emerging criminality in order to deliver maximum impact to the criminal environment.

Does the CACT work with other Commonwealth, State and Territory and international law enforcement agencies?

The CACT 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 CACT?

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 including, but not limited to; cash, bank accountss, real estate and commercial property, share portfolios, luxury cars, motorcycles, aircraft, sail and motor boats, cryptocurrency, artwork, jewellery and other collectibles.

Where do the proceeds of crime go?

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 domestic and foreign jurisdictions in recognition of their effort involved in joint investigations or prosecutions of unlawful activity.

What are the steps in confiscating proceeds of crime?

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 generally involves the following 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 most 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 is officially confiscated, the Australian Financial Security Authority will then liquidate the property and bank the proceeds into the Confiscated Assets Account established by the Act.

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