In January 2014 Australia’s biggest money-laundering investigations, Project Eligo seized AUD5.7million (USD5.3million) in cash from a location in Sydney. Investigators believe that money was being laundered through centers in the Middle East and Asia using techniques including but not limited to structuring, trade-based money laundering, and informal value transfer systems. It is also suspected that part of the funds was being directed to Lebanese militant group the Hezbollah.
When speaking of the incident, John Schmidt Chief Executive Officer of AUSTRAC, Australia’s anti-money laundering agency said remittance sector is recognized internationally as being anti-risk of being exploited by serious and organized crime groups. “Over the past two years, AUSTRAC has taken regulatory action against 15 Remitters. Importantly, the task force will continue to work with the alternative remittance sector and relevant industry bodies to build resilience and safeguard against such organized crime threats” said Mr. Schmidt.
Since its establishment in December 2012, the Eligo Task Force has successfully uncovered 40 separate money-laundering operations across Australia, seized of AUD586million (USD550 million) worth of assets, drugs, and cash and identified almost 128 Serious organized crime activities previously unknown to law enforcement agencies.