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Australian Federal Police has set up a new multi-agency task force to fight prevailing financial crimes, especially money laundering.
Avarus, a multi-agency task force agency, has been introduced by the AFP (Australian Federal Police) aiming to eliminate money laundering conducted primarily using the national financial system and property market.
According to Business News Australia, the new agency was launched last week and is now focusing to target all “sophisticated, international groups with one purpose – to provide a shadow economy enabling crime,” stated a high-level police assistant commissioner. The task force was introduced after several successful AFP partner programs, one of which resulted in the prosecution of nine members involved in a multi-million-dollar operation. The AFP seized AU $200 million of assets and AU $30 million of cryptocurrency in the operation. The criminals were operating out of Sydney and moved finances using multiple jurisdictions from avenues such as casino junkets.
The new task force combines resources from AFP, AUSTRAC (the Australian financial crime watchdog), the Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission and the Australian Border Force. Avarus will ensure investigations into Crown Resorts, The Star and SkyCity over several alleged AML breaches and amongst a wider crackdown to enforce legislation for gaming operations.
AFP Assistant Commissioner, Stephen Dametto stated, “These money laundering syndicates being targeted by the taskforce are sophisticated, international groups with one purpose – to provide a shadow economy enabling crime. They exist only to launder money on behalf of organised crime and rely on the expertise of professionals, such as lawyers and accountants, to help them evade law enforcement.”
He added, “This dirty money that is laundered through our economy is not only bankrolling lavish lifestyles but also funding future crime, such as more illicit drug imports and weapons trafficking. Put simply, without the ability to launder their money, transnational serious organised crime ceases to function.
“While law-abiding Australians are earning an honest day’s living, paying their taxes or being good community citizens, organised crime gangs are using money gained illegally to increase their wealth. They are buying homes, and commercial property, investing in our financial systems and living large without the financial pressures felt by ordinary Australians.”