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Suspicious million dollar transfers undid major methamphetamine operation

Image of methamphetamine

Multiple law enforcement agencies worked together to dismantle a major drug syndicate operating in Australia and Vietnam. The investigation uncovered one of the most elaborate methamphetamine operations in Victoria's history and led to the arrest of eight suspects.

AUSTRAC information detailed international funds transfers undertaken by the syndicate.

Law enforcement targeted the drug syndicate after monitoring the financial activity and assets belonging to the suspects, most of whom were operating from Vietnam.

Analysis of AUSTRAC information by law enforcement showed that over a 12-month period, approximately AUD24 million was sent via international funds transfer instructions (IFTIs) to Vietnam. All IFTIs were paid for entirely with cash. The syndicate mainly used remittance dealers to send the outgoing IFTIs. Law enforcement also believed that the individuals sending the funds were using false driver licences and credit cards.

The syndicate was the subject of 53 suspicious matter reports (SMRs). The majority of these were submitted by the remittance providers facilitating the outgoing IFTIs to Vietnam. The grounds for suspicion mainly related to the large amounts of cash possessed by the network and the transfer of funds to common beneficiaries in Vietnam.

Banking institutions also submitted four SMRs related to the syndicate, with the nominated grounds for suspicion including suspicious cash activity undertaken by the syndicate members, including apparent 'structuring' of account deposits and withdrawals. The SMRs noted that some of the beneficiary customers in Vietnam shared the same address and the large amounts of cash sent by the syndicate were inconsistent with the stated occupations of many of its members.

Eight members of the syndicate were arrested and charged with trafficking a large commercial quantity of methamphetamine. They were remanded in custody.

Offence Drug trafficking
Customer Individual
Industry
  • Banking (ADIs)
  • Remittance services
Channel
  • Electronic
  • Physical
Report type
  • IFTI
  • SMR
Jurisdiction International – Vietnam
Designated service
  • Account and deposit-taking services
  • Remittance services (money transfers)
Indicators
  • Financial activity does not match established customer profile
  • Large international funds transfers to common beneficiaries
  • Large amounts of cash to pay for international funds transfers
  • Multiple customers conducting international funds transfers to the same overseas beneficiary
  • Multiple international funds transfers to a high-risk jurisdiction
  • Multiple international funds transfers to beneficiaries with same address
  • Structuring of cash deposits and withdrawals over a period of time to avoid reporting requirements
  • Use of false identification to conduct transactions
Last modified: 30/07/2015 15:35