Police believe hostile foreign states are fuelling a tidal wave of organised crime activity in Australia as the focus moves to suspected Chinese money laundering and drug manufacture.
The multi-million Chinese money laundering syndicate has alleged links to senior Chinese Communist Party figures, Australian Federal Police (AFP) believe.
There is also mounting evidence the majority of illegal drug precursor chemicals are being made in China and sold to the Australian underground for a distribution network that includes well-hidden Italian Mafia connections, the Sydney Morning Herald reported.
Australian Federal Police Commissioner Reece Kershaw said foreign governments are turning a blind eye to the activities of international money launderers
AFP Commissioner Reece Kershaw on Tuesday raised the spectre of foreign governments backing criminal activities in a speech to international crime-fighting counterparts.
‘State actors and citizens from some nations are using our countries at the expense of our sovereignty and economies,’ he said.
‘Unfortunately, federal crime in Australia is increasing. Contributing to this increase is the long shadow of organised crime and state aggression.’
Police believe Chinese money laundering is facilitated by the Chen Organisation, a financial transfer business based in NSW and Victoria which moves millions out of an ordinary house in Melbourne’s eastern suburbs.
Ming Chai, a cousin of Chinese President Xi Jinping, has been linked to an organisation police believe send millions of dollars of ill-gotten cash out of Australia
Chen Organisation fund transfers have been linked to Ming Chai, who is the cousin of Chinese President Xi Jinping, someone who has long been of interest to Australia authorities.
Mr Chai, an Australian citizen, was on board a Gold Coast private jet of high stakes gamblers that police searched in 2016 looking for evidence of money laundering but there were no charges laid against him.
Another figure that police say moved more than $200 million through the Chen Organisation is Victorian brothel owner Simon Pan.
Mr Pan has previously been investigated over his gambling junkets provided to organised crime figures in China.
Casino operator Crown has been dogged by accusations of involvement with shady Chinese gamblers and assisting them in money laundering activities.
In May Crown’s Melbourne casino received a $80 million fine for abetting illegal transactions.
While police believe the proceeds of crime flow out of Australia to China, what flows in are the chemical constituents of illegal drugs, known as precursors
While police believe the proceeds of crime flow out of Australia to China, what flows in are the chemical constituents of illegal drugs, known as precursors.
In his speech to the Five Eyes Law Enforcement Group, which facilitates cooperation between peak law enforcement bodies from the US, UK, Canada and New Zealand, Mr Kershaw outlined the scale of the problem.
He said that for international crime syndicates their ‘crime model is made easier by countries that have unregulated chemical and financial markets’.
‘They maintain global financial flows by exploiting illicit and legitimate industries across our countries,’ he said.
‘We cannot ignore that some countries are producing precursors at an eye-watering scale.
‘We also cannot ignore that some countries, I’d argue, are turning a blind eye to the proceeds of crime washing through their economies.’
China’s factories have been accused of making the precursors for illegal drugs such as fentanyl, with Australia’s top cop saying this activity is happening in ‘unregulated’ countries
China’s chemical industry has been accused by US authorities of fuelling the epidemic of fentanyl overdoses, which is the leading cause of death for Americans aged between 18 and 45.
US authorities have identified that Chinese-made precursors are being shipped to Mexico by drug cartels who turn them into the finished product for smuggling into the US.
The byzantine web of organised in Australia was partly laid bare on Tuesday when police said they have identified more than 5,000 Italian mafia figures operating in Australia, making them a much greater underworld presence than previously suspected.
Police said the mafia’s clans, including those associated with the notorious Calabrian ‘Ndrangheta, work closely with a wide range of organised crime groups including outlaw bikies, Middle Eastern gangs, Asian triads and South American cartels.
Up to 5,000 members of the Italian mafia are operating across Australia, according to Australian Federal Police
Australian Federal Police Assistant Commissioner Nigel Ryan issued a warning to all of them.
‘If you are a member of a cartel operating out of Mexico, a member of a triad operating out of Asia or a member of an outlaw motorcycle gang in Australia, and you are impacting on Australians because of your illegal activity, then you will be targeted by the AFP,’ Mr Ryan said.