17 December 2020

Updated: Canberra lawyer and accountant arrested over organised crime links

| Michael Weaver
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Criminal investigators from ACT Policing with one of the men arrested over alleged organised crime.

Criminal investigators from ACT Policing with one of the men arrested over alleged organised crime. Photo: ACT Policing

UPDATE 4:20 pm: A 35-year-old woman has also been arrested in Civic this afternoon as part of the investigation targeting professional facilitators of organised crime in Canberra. The woman is a close associate of the 47-year-old man and also a member of the legal community.

3:55 pm: Two men, including a prominent Canberra lawyer, have been arrested as part of an eight-month investigation targeting organised crime.

Search warrants were executed at a law firm in Civic and an accountancy business in Kingston linked to the men. Further search warrants were executed at a grocery store in Queanbeyan and another business at Farrer.

Earlier today (16 December), investigators were seen executing a search warrant at well-known Civic law firm Aulich; however, lead investigator Detective Superintendent Scott Moller would not make a link to the arrest.

ACT Policing alleges a 47-year-old man facilitated an introduction to a 54-year-old man for the purposes of “arranging to legitimise large quantities of cash”.

According to police, the men met on a number of occasions to discuss how legal contracts and agreements could be used to support a business purchase to facilitate the laundering of proceeds of crime.

The men will be charged with offences associated with money laundering and are assisting police with their enquiries.

Det Supt Scott Moller said extensive amounts of documents have been seized during the operation targeting organised crime in Canberra that began in May 2020.

While unable to disclose specifics of the investigation or make direct links to outlaw motorcycle gangs, Det Supt Moller said the investigation was part of their broader strategy to prevent organised crime.

“For the last two years, we’ve been targeting organised crime and outlaw motorcycle gangs. We’ve been successful in halving the membership of outlaw motorcycle gangs in Canberra and certainly, this is one way we can limit their activities in Canberra because restricting the professional facilitators makes it harder for them to launder their cash.

“This was a highly sensitive eight-month investigation that targeted covert business practices and services that allowed criminals to commit further crime and hide assets within our community,” Det Supt Moller said.

“This investigation is still ongoing and police expect to make further arrests.”

He said the organised crime landscape was evolving.

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“Some criminal activities are becoming increasingly obscured through new technologies and sophisticated methods, and police must consider broader investigative strategies to disrupt organised crime,” Det Supt Moller said.

“Some organised crime groups and individuals lack the necessary skills or access to carry out their crimes, and so seek professional facilitators in particular areas like the financial and legal sector.

“ACT Policing will target anyone who engages in illegal activity to help criminals retain and legitimise proceeds of crime.”

Anyone with information that could assist police is urged to contact Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000, or via the Crime Stoppers ACT website. Quote reference 6695673. Information can be provided anonymously.

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