Wednesday, April 14, 2021

Queensland’s corruption watchdog raids two law firms in money laundering case

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Four people connected to two law firms raided by the state’s corruption watchdog are together facing hundreds of fraud and money laundering charges.

The Crime and Corruption Commission has laid more than 300 charges following the raid on two Brisbane-based law offices, as well as business premises and private dwellings in Brisbane and on the Gold Coast, under Operation Mercury.

Three men and a woman are facing dozens of charges each and the raids follow the arrest of another two people earlier this year on drug charges.

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The CCC said more charges are pending.

“The major crime investigation, codenamed Operation Mercury, involved a number of search warrants executed at two Brisbane-based law firms and a number of business premises and private dwellings in Brisbane and the Gold Coast throughout the 18-month investigation,” the CCC said in a statement.

“It will be alleged the four people charged on Tuesday were involved in serious fraud offences against a number of financial institutions.

“It will also be alleged those charged laundered the proceeds of serious criminal offences.”

CCC Chair Alan MacSporran QC said the scale of the alleged offending demonstrates why the crime watchdog has a continued focus on the enablers of major and organised crime.

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“The CCC has an investigative focus on not just those who directly engage in major crime, but those individuals and groups of people who facilitate and enable it,” he said.

“It is disappointing and concerning, some of the allegations relate to the legal profession,” Mr MacSporran said.

The CCC has laid more than 300 charges, with a 45-year-old Helensvale man facing more than 100 charges alone.

He has been charged with multiple aggravated fraud charges, 89 counts of fraud, seven counts of fraudulent falsification of records and six counts of money laundering.

The CCC said the man is currently before the courts on a separate count of money laundering relating to the seizure of $97,000 in cash in February.

A 37-year-old Helensvale woman is facing one count of aggravated fraud, 76 counts of fraud, three counts of fraudulent falsification of records and three counts of money laundering.

A 36-year-old Helensvale man will have to answer to 12 counts of fraud, two counts of fraudulent falsification of records, one count of money laundering and one count of perjury.

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A 42-year-old Ascot man has been charged with six counts of aggravated fraud, 77 counts of fraud, seven counts of fraudulent falsification of records and seven counts of money laundering.

The Ascot man was also accused of money laundering relating to the seizure of $97,000 in cash in February and in September was charged with supplying drugs, the CCC said.

All four people charged yesterday are expected to appear before the Brisbane Magistrates Court on January 11.

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