A 12-month multi-jurisdictional investigation led to the arrest of three members of an alleged Melbourne money laundering syndicate who organized a scheme involving purchasing winning tickets from electronic gaming machines.
Three People Charged
The investigation executed by the Australian Federal Police (AFP), in collaboration with AUSTRAC, the Victorian Gambling and Casino Control Commission (VGCCC) and National Australia Bank, brought charges to two women – one, 49, from Springvale South and the other, 61, from Noble Park, as well as a man, 63 also from Noble Park.
They were charged after the AFP executed three search warrants for a commercial property in Springvale and two homes in Springvale South and Noble Park and seized more than AU$170,000 ($114,000) in cash and gold bullions from the property in Springvale South hidden inside plywood within a bedroom.
Based on the investigation which was initiated on a report from AUSTRAC, the AFP alleges that the money is part of the illicit cash the syndicate has laundered via a Springvale licensed gambling venue. The syndicate members paid patrons to hand over their winning checks which then would be issued in the name of one of the members and deposited in the bank as legitimate gambling winnings.
All three are charged with violation of Section 400.3 (2A) of the Criminal Code Act 1995 for engaging in conduct in relation to money or property that was proceeds of general crime in excess of AU$1 million ($673,000) and will appear in the Melbourne Magistrate’s Court on September 8. The maximum sentence for their offense is 20 years in prison.
VGCCC’s Forensic Approach
According to data gathered by the VGCCC between November 2021 and June 2022, the Springvale gaming venue had an abnormally high number of winning checks as compared to other venues, and approximately 73% of the checks in the amount of AU$4.7 million were issued to a select group of patrons, who were suspect of being associated to those involved in laundering the illicit cash.
“This money laundering network would still be operating it if wasn’t for the forensic approach taken by our dedicated team of analysts and investigators, who put countless hours into reviewing data and footage, and conducting our own covert operations,” said Annette Kimmitt AM, chief executive officer at VGCCC, sending a message to the gambling industry.
The regulator is continuing with its investigation into the Springvale gaming venue and if the venue is found in breach of Victorian gambling laws, the licensee will face disciplinary action ranging from financial sanction to license cancellation.
“This operation shows that as a new regulator with stronger powers we are watching the gambling industry closely and we will work with other agencies to actively pursue and shut down criminal activity,” concluded Kimmitt.