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Criminal Proceeds Forfeited from Fraudulent Meat Export Business

Luke Livingston recently appeared, successfully, for the Commissioner of the Australian Federal Police at the final hearing of forfeiture proceedings in respect of C C & B International Pty Ltd.

Justice Davies, in the Supreme Court of New South Wales, made orders pursuant to s 49 of the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 (Cth) forfeiting to the Commonwealth the whole of the funds standing to the credit of the company’s bank account. The judgment brings to a conclusion a long-running money laundering investigation by the New South Wales Police and subsequent proceeds of crime proceedings by the Australian Federal Police.

The company purported to be an agent in Australia for Chinese purchasers of wholesale meat exported from Australia. Between 23 June 2014 and 26 August 2015, the company’s bank account received a total of 1,113 cash deposits exceeding $27 million. Despite this, the company’s income tax returns from the 2010 to 2014 income years declared a taxable income ranging from zero to $3,690.

Although purporting to conduct a business specialising in the export of meat products from Australia to China, the company did not hold the requisite meat export licence under the Australian Meat & Live-stock Industry Act 1997 (Cth).

The police investigation ascertained that, with the exception of five transactions, not a single licensed Australian meat exporter could be located who had conducted any business either with the company or with any of the entities identified on invoices seized, under search warrant, from the company’s premises.

Justice Davies was satisfied that transcripts of intercepted phone calls involving the company’s director supported a conclusion that false invoices were prepared to justify the deposits of cash; and that strong inferences were available from those phone calls and from the WeChat messages exchanged by the director and others that the company engaged in wrongdoing in relation to money that was being received by it.

His Honour concluded that the company did not engage in the business transactions it purported to transact. The company did not engage in other than isolated meat export transactions. Those isolated transactions were intended to give an air of legitimacy to the company’s wrongful conduct.

Accordingly, the Court held that the company’s right to the funds standing to the credit of its account was wholly or partly derived or realised, directly or indirectly, from money laundering offences contrary to s 400.9(1) of the Commonwealth Criminal Code. In those circumstances the whole of that property of the company constituted “proceeds” of one or more indictable offences within the meaning of s 329(1) of the Proceeds of Crime Act.

The judgment can be found here.


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