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Bail Granted Over Alleged $7 Million Money Laundering Operation

CRIMINAL CASE

Our client arrived in Australia from Nigeria on a student visa three years before his arrest.

His arrest occurred as a result of a joint investigation by several law enforcement agencies into alleged organised criminal activity being directed by a syndicate comprised of persons both ‘known’ and ‘unknown’ to those agencies.

It was alleged our client was involved in the laundering of large sums of cash for the syndicate over several months.

The laundering allegedly occurred in two ways:

1. Business Email Compromise: A business email is compromised when person/s gain access to a corporate email account and impersonate the real owner to defraud the company, its customers, partners/employees into sending money or sensitive data to a financial account controlled by offender/s.

2. Romance / Investment scam: Involves a person (victim) subscribing to an online website where they communicate with the offender/s on ongoing basis. The offender/s profile uses fictitious details and photographs obtained from social media / internet websites (without knowledge or permission from the legitimate person depicted in the photographs). The offender/s will have ongoing communication with the victim where they provide a storyline requiring funds sent to their accounts.

Police allege that our client received funds through a Business Email Compromise scam and suspect him of having received proceeds of crime over a six month period, before attending a number of locations where he allegedly dealt with proceeds of crime.

Authorities accumulated what they described as WhatsApp messages, bank account documents and call charge records, have led police to believe that our client was a participant of a criminal group and contributed by receiving proceeds of crime. 

They allege the organised criminal syndicate laundered and dealt with over $7,000,000.00 in illegally derived funds with our client dealing with $274,448.52.

He was charged with the following offences:

  • Sequence 1: Participate in criminal group
  • Sequence 2: Recklessly deal with proceeds of crime, to wit, $2000; 
  • Sequence 3: Deal with proceeds of crime, to wit, $16,950.00; 
  • Sequence 4: Recklessly deal with proceeds of crime, to wit, $5,995.00; 
  • Sequence 4: Deal with proceeds of crime, to wit, $30,300.00; 
  • Sequence 5: Deal with proceeds of crime, to wit, $4,000.00; 
  • Sequence 6: Deal with proceeds of crime, to wit, $78,073.70; 
  • Sequence 7: Deal with proceeds of crime, to wit, $58,799.99; and 
  • Sequence 8: Deal with proceeds of crime, to wit, $80,329.73.

Our client was refused bail at the police station and came before the court for a bail application, during which prosecutors asserted our client does not ‘have a hope in hell’ of obtaining bail.

They strongly opposed bail for a number of reasons, including that:

  • Our client was a strong flight risk, in so far as he had limited connections to Australia, was not a resident, was nearing the end of his visa, and had access to an organisation which could easily provide him a false passport he could use to leave the country,
  • The charges were serious, representing involvement in a large-scale criminal operation over at least the past several months, and
  • The evidence was extremely strong, with electronic items being found both on him and at his premises linking him with the offences.

In accordance with the provisions of the Bail Act, our team prepared detailed written submissions as well as proposed bail conditions addressing these ‘bail concerns’, and our attending lawyer made lengthy additional verbal submissions which convince the presiding magistrate to grant bail.

Three other accused who were arrested at the same time as our client, and who were represented by other law firms, were refused bail in court despite being in similar positions to our client.

Bail applications were made for two of those accused, both of which were refused as similar bail concerns to our client’s were not adequately addressed or overcome. The lawyers for the remaining accused did not make a bail application at all, and their client’s bail was refused.

Our lawyer appeared in the Local Court for a Bail application and made lengthy submission to court and addressing the bail concerns. 

Despite the case being strong against out client, the magistrate ultimately was persuaded by our lawyer and granted our client bail. 

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