AFP Commander Investigations, Eastern Command, Kirsty Schofield commented:
Transnational and serious organised crime groups are evolving. No longer do they target any specific crime type or commodity, they adapt to their environments by recruiting professional enablers to provide experience in the financial, legal or any other field they feel can earn them money. This investigation is just one example of how the AFP stays ahead of these groups, formulating innovative techniques to combat the complex and rapidly changing environment of Organised Crime in Australia.
Kirsty Schofield added:
The AFP is always looking to out-smart these organised crime groups – we make sure we have investigators with specialist skills and look to work with partner agencies and private industry to counter a broader range of criminal offending. We will continue to target organised crime at their most vulnerable, namely when they try and legitimise their illegally-obtain proceeds of crime.
ATO Assistant Commissioner Aislinn Walwyn, who leads the agency’s operational activity under the SFCT said:
A common theme of serious financial crime is a business that may appear legitimate on the surface, but once you peel back the layers, you discover a web of well-organised syndicated activity, like phoenixing, which causes real harm to people’s livelihoods and lines the pockets of people who abuse the system.
The SFCT is focused on pursuing people who deliberately try to rip off the country by evading their taxes. Not complying with tax obligations is not a victimless crime – the whole community is impacted by this behaviour. Revenue loss is a significant injury suffered by all Australians.
Together, we have pieced together a very complex set of arrangements involving members of a syndicate allegedly engaged in fraud, phoenix activity and tax evasion. The debt recovery actions we have taken ensure we can claw back as much of the money illegally obtained by these groups and direct it back to the community where it belongs.
Four of the arrested men from Queensland and Earlwood were each charged with one count of conspire with the intention of dishonestly causing a loss to the Commonwealth. The charge carries a maximun penalty of 10 years in prison. They were also charged one count of conspire to deal with proceeds of crime with maximum penalty of 25 years in prison.
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