Following a 12-month joint agency investigation and eight search warrants in Melbourne, nine million illicit cigarettes were seized. This also led to the arrest of a Greenvale man who was charged for this offence.
The illicit activity is reported to have generated cash and assets spread over various location across Melbourne suburbs. This include bank accounts and nine properties located in various Melbourne suburbs. The law enforcement agency, AFP’s Criminal Asset Confiscation has restraint $8.35 million worth of assets.
A team involving different agencies began investigation when the Australian Crime Commission (ACC) began investigating suspicious financial activities of businesses associated with the man. Along with this AUSTRAC financial intelligence also identified large suspicious money movements.
On the basis of the investigation conducted, Australian Federal Police (AFP) officers allege that the man was involved in the importation of illicit tobacco products. This illegal activity resulted in avoiding duty to the tune of $5 million and the man is also accused for dealing in the proceeds of crime.
Seized material by Australian Border Force (ABF) officers include nine million cigarettes and 44.5kg of molasses tobacco imported into Melbourne. The importer had declared the consignment as printer and mobile phone accessories. These items which came via air cargo avoided payment of $5 million dollars’ worth of duties. Information of any Sydney custom broker in connection is not available.
The investigation by the ACC, Victoria Police, AUSTRAC and the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) was referred AFP and AFP officers executed search warrants on residential properties and businesses in the suburbs of Greenvale, Beveridge, Tullamarine and Fawkner.
The charges levelled against the 40-year-old man arrested from Greenvale were dealing in the Proceeds of Crime, smuggling of tobacco products and general Dishonesty. The offences can attract a maximum penalty of 17 years imprisonment plus duty payable of $5 million.