Organised crime costs Australia $36 billion a year


Lawyers, accountants and computer experts are increasingly being used as organised criminals become more sophisticated and globally linked.

Organised crime is costing Australia $36 billion a year and lawyers, accountants and computer experts are increasingly being used to commit crime and hide assets.

The Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission on Thursday released an unclassified 2017 report on organised crime in Australia.

While identity theft was one of the most common crimes, the use of "professional facilitators" was emerging as a serious issue.

"The most common professions exploited by organised crime include lawyers, accountants, financial and tax advisers, registered migration agents, stockbrokers, real estate agents and customs brokers," the report says.

'Professional facilitators'

Computer experts were also being used to run sophisticated scams, steal identities and hide money.

"The use of professional facilitators often results in financial gains for criminals through tax evasion, money laundering, superannuation fraud and phoenixing activities."

With public sector corruption identified as an issue in the report, it notes Australia's ranking on Transparency International's corruption perceptions index has dropped from seventh in 2012 to 13th in 2016.

The report puts this down to "a number of well-publicised instances of corruption in sport as well as publicity generated by several recent anti-corruption agency and royal commission investigations into criminality and workplace misconduct".

Global links are a major concern, with up to 70 per cent of Australia's serious and organised crime threats based offshore or having offshore connections.

"As visibility of criminal activities becomes increasingly obscured through new technologies and sophisticated methods, it is clear that a connected, informed and collaborative response to the threat is required," Nicole Rose, acting chief executive of the ACIC, says in the report.

The ACIC identified future threats such as a rise in cocaine supply, the high use of opioids, methamphetamine (ice) use, exploitation of the financial sector, visa and migration system fraud, and online scams.

Federal Justice Minister Michael Keenan said fighting organised crime was a massive challenge.

"The highlights for this particular report reveals links between serious and organised crime and potential terrorists," he told reporters in Perth.

"It also highlights the rise in cocaine supply. It's a trend that is worrying us and (the report also) highlights the fact that prescription drugs ... is an increasing problem."

Mr Keenan said commonwealth agencies were working closely with state and territory agencies on the problem.

"That co-operation between state and federal law enforcement is absolutely vital if we're going to have a compressive national response to beat criminality," he said.

Source AAP

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