Go to top of page

Man convicted after importing human growth hormones from China

Image of syringe

AUSTRAC information assisted authorities to identify transactions associated with the illegal importation and possession of human growth hormones (HGH).

Authorities identified a package which had been imported to Australia from China via the postal system. The package was addressed to a post office box in Sydney. Examination of the package showed that it contained 100 vials of a white powder. Subsequent analysis revealed that the powder contained HGH, which was being imported into Australia without approval from the Department of Health and Ageing.

The consignment note for the package listed a billing address for the suspect and a mobile telephone number belonging to the suspect’s company. The suspect was also listed as a mail recipient for the post office box in Sydney.

Authorities searched the suspect’s home and located his work diary which contained references to HGH. Authorities also found several boxes of vials labelled ‘Jintropin’ (a form of HGH), a computer containing tracking details for the delivery of the package and files with references to HGH and Jintropin. Enquiries revealed the suspect did not have a permit to import HGH.

Authorities provided AUSTRAC with copies of records obtained from the main suspect, which included information about financial transactions to overseas beneficiaries. Analysis of the AUSTRAC database revealed a strong correlation between these records and outgoing international funds transfer instructions (IFTIs) to China and Lebanon. Authorities determined that the records held by the suspect were instructions to his associates to send funds overseas as payment for the drugs.

AUSTRAC data indicated that the suspect and his wife sent approximately AUD114,000 worth of IFTIs to China, Lebanon, Syria, Kuwait and Qatar over a 10-year period. The data showed that:

  • the suspect, a company of which he was a director, and the suspect’s wife sent approximately AUD60,000 worth of IFTIs to the same beneficiary in China over a two-year period
  • the IFTIs ranged in amounts from AUD1,500 to AUD25,000, and were sent via remittance services, with one IFTI sent via a bank.

AUSTRAC received a suspect transaction report (SUSTR) detailing the activities of the suspect’s wife. A reporting entity reported that:

  • the suspect’s wife had undertaken three ‘structured’ IFTIs to China and Lebanon totalling AUD23,000 over a 13-day period
  • the IFTIs were paid for in cash and were structured in amounts between AUD7,000 and AUD9,000
  • two IFTIs were sent to China on the same day from different outlets
  • the same beneficiary in China received IFTIs from the suspect, his wife and the suspect’s associates
  • the suspect’s wife provided inconsistent information about her date of birth to reporting entity staff when undertaking transactions.

Under the Customs Act 1901 the suspect was convicted of intentionally importing a ‘tier 1 good’, namely HGH, without approval. The suspect received a two-year good behaviour bond.

Offence

  • Drug importation

Customer

  • Individual

Industry

  • Banking (ADIs)
  • Remittance services

Channel

  • Electronic
  • Physical

Report type

  • IFTI
  • SUSTR

Jurisdiction

  • International – China, Kuwait, Lebanon, Qatar, Syria

Designated service

  • Account and deposit taking services
  • Remittance services (money transfers)

Indicators

  • International funds transfers to a high-risk jurisdiction
  • Multiple customers conducting international funds transfers under the guidance or instruction of another individual (i.e. use of ‘third parties’)
  • Multiple customers conducting international funds transfers to the same overseas beneficiary
  • Structuring cash transactions (outgoing international funds transfers) to avoid reporting requirements
Last modified: 30/07/2015 15:36