Criminals will find it even harder to use or hide their ill-gotten wealth under changes to the state’s asset confiscation laws introduced into Parliament by the Andrews Labor Government today.

A recent interstate court decision relating to the Commonwealth Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 found that assets purchased with a loan, but repaid using proceeds of crime, could be considered as having been lawfully acquired.

The Confiscation and Other Matters Amendment Bill 2016, introduced by Attorney General Martin Pakula today, will amend the Confiscation Act 1997 to ensure that Victorian criminals repaying mortgages using proceeds of crime cannot argue that houses bought with those mortgages were lawfully acquired.

The proposed law will amend the definition of a bank or credit card account to include recently closed accounts.

The information-gathering powers in the Act relating to bank accounts do not currently apply to closed accounts – a loophole that can be exploited by criminals seeking to hide their wealth.

The amendment will mean that criminals who withdraw funds and quickly close their accounts are unable to thwart police investigations.

The proposed law also amends the Criminal Organisations Control Act 2012 to make it easier for police to seek a declaration that an organisation is a criminal organisation. The Bill will consolidate the two current types of declaration – ‘prohibitive’ and ‘restrictive’ – into one.

A declaration is a court order sought by Victoria Police and the first step in gaining a control order limiting the activities of an organisation – potentially preventing it from operating, carrying on business, or taking on new members.

The two current types of declarations involve different standards of proof, and allow for different types of control orders. Under this law, there will be only one type of declaration, which may be made on the lower civil standard of proof.

The Bill will also simplify the procedure for Victoria Police to seek the disposal of child pornography from a person convicted of child pornography and other serious offences, allowing the disposal of a computer or phone containing this material.

Quotes attributable to Attorney General Martin Pakula

“The Government is committed to disrupting and deterring serious and organised crime.”

“Victoria now has one of Australia’s most comprehensive set of confiscation laws, further depriving criminals of their ill-gotten gains.”

“Strengthening our existing laws will make it easier for Victoria Police and the courts to restrict the activities of criminal organisations and shut down their operations.”

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