ORGANISED crime is costing Australia $36 billion a year with professional lawyers, accountants and computer experts increasingly being used to commit crime and hide assets.
The Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission this morning released an unclassified 2017 report on Organised Crime in Australia.
While identity theft was one of the most common crimes, the use of “professional facilitators” was emerging as a serious issue.
“The most common professions exploited by organised crime include lawyers, accountants, financial and tax advisers, registered migration agents, stockbrokers, real estate agents and customs brokers,” the report says. Computer experts were also being used to run sophisticated scams, steal identities and hide money.
“The use of professional facilitators often results in financial gains for criminals through tax evasion, money laundering, superannuation fraud, and phoenixing activities.”
With public sector corruption identified as an issue in the report, it notes Australia’s ranking on Transparency International’s corruption perceptions index has dropped from seventh in 2012 to 13th in 2016.
The report puts this down to “a number of well-publicised instances of corruption in sport as well as publicity generated by several recent anti-corruption agency and royal commission investigations into criminality and workplace misconduct”.
Global links are a major concern, with up to 70 per cent of Australia’s serious and organised crime threats based offshore or having offshore connections.
“As visibility of criminal activities becomes increasingly obscured through new technologies and sophisticated methods, it is clear that a connected, informed and collaborative response to the threat is required,” wrote Nicole Rose, acting chief executive of the ACIC, in the report.
The ACIC identified future threats such as a rise in cocaine supply, the high use of opioids, methylamphetamine (ice) use, exploitation of the financial sector, visa and migration system fraud, and online scams.
“Serious and organised crime touches the lives of Australians in unprecedented ways — it is destructive, pervasive and sophisticated,” Ms Rose said.
“Transnational serious organised crime groups have had a significant impact on crime markets in Australia in the past two years, with technology and digital infrastructure presenting as key enablers across multiple crime types.”
ACIC says it is working with industry and law enforcement to:
Disrupt and deter Australia’s highest risk criminal groups and individuals through the collection of evidence and intelligence on criminal activity.
Gather intelligence on a range of drug markets in Australia, including implementing the National Wastewater Drug Monitoring Program, and contributing to the National Ice Action Strategy.
Disrupt, dismantle or neutralise Outlaw Motor Cycle Gangs nationally.
Identify, investigate and disrupt serious organised crime groups’ involvement in visa and migration fraud.
Target criminal wealth to identify and disrupt criminal money flows by collecting evidence and intelligence.
Prioritise understanding of cybercrime threats to Australia and initiate response strategies.