Greater powers to catch beneficiaries of organised crime

ORGANISED criminals with unexplained wealth could soon face greater scrutiny of their finances, amid an Abbott government move to tighten the net on crime.

Justice Minister Michael Keenan on Wednesday introduced changes to national crimes laws, adopting several recommendations from a parliamentary law enforcement committee.

The laws will lend more legal muscle to national efforts to crackdown on organised crime, after the creation of the National Anti-Gang Squad and the Australian Gangs Intelligence Co-ordination Centre in the past six months.

As state governments continue to move in on regional bikie groups and other organised criminal groups, the unexplained wealth laws will put more of the burden on criminals to prove their money was obtained legally.

A key change introduced was to ensure federal police and the Australian Crime Commission can seize all bank records and financial statements to determine the source of possibly ill-gotten gains.

The amendments also included moves to prevent unexplained wealth court cases being slowed by suspects failing to turn up at court, and move to prevent the offloading of criminal proceeds before court orders are made.

Mr Keenan said the new laws would help ensure law enforcement agencies had more powers to "attack the profits of criminal syndicates".

"Taking the profit out of crime undermines the entire business model of criminal groups and prevents illicit funds being reinvested to support further criminal activity," he said.

While some of the original committee recommendations from 2012 were acted on, Mr Keenan said there were "a number outstanding", in order to strengthen the laws.

The laws will also strengthen the sharing of information between federal, state and international authorities in a bid to follow the proceeds of crime, even when placed offshore.



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