$28 million proceeds of crime order granted – 20.05.2015
Two convicted drug traffickers have been ordered to pay $28 million dollars to the State of Queensland following successful proceeds of crime action by the Crime and Corruption Commission (CCC).
The Supreme Court has ordered (18 May 2015) a proceeds assessment order against each respondent in the amount of $14,051,238.56 each. The total amount ordered to be paid to the State in this matter being $28,102,477.12. This is the largest order since the Criminal Proceeds Confiscation Act 2002 commenced in Queensland in 2003. The order surpasses the previous largest order of $20,058,389 which was granted in June 2013 after the Morehu-Barlow fraud on Queensland Health. (See previous media release).
A proceeds assessment order is a pecuniary or financial penalty and, if granted, allows the value of the proceeds derived from illegal activity or property legally acquired to be recovered. To obtain this order, the State must prove that the person engaged in serious crime-related activity in the past six years.
The CCC commenced proceeds of crime action against James Thomas O’Brien and Michael Paul Falzon in the Supreme Court in April 2004 following the conclusion of a joint Queensland Police Service and Australian Crime Commission operation. As a result of these operations, in 2008 O’Brien was convicted of unlawfully trafficking methylamphetamine and cannabis sativa. He was also convicted of seven counts of unlawfully producing methylamphetamine and was sentenced to 14 years’ imprisonment.
Falzon was convicted in 2009 of one count of unlawfully trafficking methylamphetamine and two counts of unlawfully producing methylamphetamine. He was sentenced to 10 years’ imprisonment.
The proceeds of crime action was commenced after identifying assets including cash, real properties, vehicles and bank accounts that were believed to be derived from illegal activity. The confiscation proceedings cumulated with a trial in the Supreme Court in September 2014.
The CCC was assisted by the Queensland Police Service (QPS), Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions and the Public Trustee of Queensland.
Acting CCC Chairman, Dr Ken Levy, said criminals must understand that law enforcement will work together to remove the profit motive for organised crime
“CCC investigators actively target criminals who are benefiting from organised crime, especially those involved in the manufacture, supply and trafficking of dangerous drugs,” Dr Levy said.
“This order should serve as a warning to any would-be criminal that getting involved in organised crime will ultimately have no benefit. Not only will you be caught by law enforcement and face possible custodial sentences, you’ll end up with no money, no assets and a debt to the State of Queensland.”
“The Queensland Police Service, DPP and Public Trustee of Queensland work collaboratively with the CCC to pursue the proceeds of crime. Their assistance is integral in obtaining results such as this.”
More information on how the proceeds of crime are recovered using confiscation schemes is available at: http://www.ccc.qld.gov.au/crime/how-the-ccc-fights-crime/how-proceeds-of-crime-are-recovered-using-the-confiscation-schemes
The full judgement is available from the Supreme Court Library website: http://www.sclqld.org.au/caselaw/