Former federal Labor MP Craig Thomson charged over alleged migration fraud

Former federal Labor MP Craig Thomson could face up to 20 years in prison over accusations he was behind a multimillion-dollar migration fraud.

Former federal MP Craig Thomson leaves the Melbourne Magistrates Court in Melbourne, Tuesday, February 24, 2015.

Former federal MP Craig Thomson leaves the Melbourne Magistrates Court in Melbourne, Tuesday, February 24, 2015. Source: AAP

Former federal Labor MP Craig Thomson has been charged, accused of being involved in a multimillion-dollar migration fraud.

Police allege the former member for Dobell facilitated more than 130 fraudulent visa applications over four years, yielding more than $2 million in profit.

He was arrested and charged on Wednesday with two breaches of Australian migration law, both of which have a maximum penalty of 10 years' imprisonment.

The arrests come after the 57-year-old's NSW Central Coast home was raided in July, with police taking several suitcases and bags of evidence.

His home was searched again on Wednesday.

The Australian Federal Police said investigations in other possible offences were continuing and further arrests could not be ruled out.

The visa applications allegedly focused on the food service and regional farm worker industries.

The probe was prompted by an Australian Border Force investigation into claims of significant visa and migration fraud from August, 2019.

The AFP's Acting Commander Investigations, Eastern Command, Craig Bellis, said the charges involved a serious breach of public trust.

"The alleged offences in this matter involved the exploitation of federal government programs designed to assist Australian businesses," he said on Wednesday.

The AFP led the investigation, with help from ABF, AUSTRAC, the Australian Taxation Office and the Department of Home Affairs.

Mr Thomson was suspended by the Labor Party in 2012 while a sitting MP. 

Two other Central Coast premises were raided at the same time as Mr Thomson's property was searched in July, on top of as two premises in Revesby in southwest Sydney, two premises in Rockdale in Sydney's south, one in East Maitland, and another in Bundaberg West in Queensland.

Mr Thomson's house was searched again on Wednesday, as was a premises at Tuggerah on the Central Coast.

AUSTRAC national manager Michael Tink said the agency had undertaken deep financial analysis, tracing money that identified more than $2 million in income that was likely derived from fraud-related offences.

"This demonstrates financial reporting from industry combined with AUSTRAC's specialist financial analysis plays an instrumental role in detecting and stopping criminals seeking to defraud government programs," he said.

The ABF's Assistant Commissioner East and Port Operations, Erin Dale, said the agency had a zero-tolerance approach with "unwavering resolve" to catch anyone trying to profit through the exploitation of vulnerable foreign workers.

"'Cash for visa' schemes ... target vulnerable visa holders who may not be aware of Australian laws and workplace entitlements," she said.

"Together, the ABF and AFP will continue to pursue facilitators of visa and migration fraud, while protecting foreign workers who play a vital role within the Australian community."

Mr Thomson will appear before Gosford Local Court on Wednesday.

3 min read
Published 17 November 2021 at 5:07pm
Source: AAP, SBS