AUSTRAC assists in unexplained wealth investigation: over AUD2 million in assets seized

Image of money with chains and lock

AUSTRAC information was the catalyst for a law enforcement investigation into the unexplained wealth of two entities. The subjects of the proactive AUSTRAC referral were a married couple identified as moving large and unexplained amounts of cash domestically as well as sending funds offshore. Law enforcement enquiries revealed the total funds available to the couple from unknown sources approximated AUD4.1 million. The investigation ultimately resulted in the forfeiture of bank accounts and property to the Commonwealth valued at approximately AUD2.4 million.

Indicators

The following indicators may help identify similar suspicious transaction activity related to unexplained wealth:

  • Customer making multiple cash deposits into a loan account, or into a third party company account, on the same day across different branches for amounts including but not limited to AUD10,000 to AUD70,000.
  • Multiple international funds transfer instructions (IFTIs) for amounts greater than AUD10,000 sent to the same beneficiaries from different branches of the same bank on the same day.
  • Purchase of high-value bank cheques, e.g. for amounts greater than AUD20,000, funded entirely or mostly by cash.

Investigation outline

Law enforcement commenced an investigation after receiving information from AUSTRAC which identified two individuals involved in moving large amounts of unexplained cash. The suspects were initially identified by AUSTRAC due to their association with a suspected money laundering target.  

The investigation revealed the suspects, a married couple operating a company providing plastering and tiling services to residential construction companies, accumulated just over AUD4 million from unknown sources, i.e. sources other than declared business and personal income, gifts, bank loans and property transaction proceeds. The funds in part were deposited into home loan accounts held by the suspects and into third party company accounts, sent offshore to Chinese beneficiaries, and/or used to purchase high-value bank cheques.

Law enforcement took custody and control of assets worth approximately AUD2.4 million after seeking and being granted a restraining order over all property owned by the suspects including land and movable personal property. The restrained property was forfeited after an unsuccessful application by the suspects to have property excluded on the basis that it was not the proceeds of crime or an instrument of an offence.

Industry contribution

Reports submitted by our industry partners including threshold cash transactions and IFTIs. These reports were used to inform the analysis conducted by AUSTRAC, which was then referred to law enforcement.

AUSTRAC contribution

AUSTRAC information relating to the suspects’ financial activities revealed:

  • Significant cash deposits into five loan accounts totalling approximately AUD1.5 million over a four-year period. On some occasions the cash was deposited at different branches on the same day.
  • Significant cash deposits into third party company accounts including three large deposits, each valued at approximately AUD40,000, made at different branches.   
  • Several outgoing funds transfers to beneficiaries in China made on the same day. On one occasion four outgoing transfers were made from different branches of the same bank to the same beneficiaries in China, each exceeding AUD30,000, for a total of AUD146,000.
  • Across an eight-year period 93 IFTIs were sent to beneficiaries in China totalling AUD1.5 million.
  • The purchase of two large value cheques, one valued at AUD25,000 and funded entirely by cash, and the other worth AUD76,670 of which AUD50,000 was funded by cash.

Outcome

As a result of the investigation assets including bank accounts and property, valued at approximately AUD2.4 million were forfeited to the Commonwealth.

Case study summary

Offence

Money laundering

Customer

Individual

Industry

Banking – Authorised deposit-taking institution (ADI)

Channel

Physical
Electronic

Report type

TTR (Threshold transaction report)
IFTI

Jurisdiction

Domestic
International – China

Designated Service

Account and deposit-taking services
Remittance services

Last modified: 10/04/2017 11:01