The Australian Federal Police (AFP) has been investigating a money laundering technique known as Cuckoo Smurfing for almost 20 years. It is a technique which involves criminal groups intercepting the transfer of lawful funds to Australia and substituting that money in Australia, with money derived from crime, mainly drug trafficking.
Valuable intelligence has been collected over the years from investigating syndicates using the cuckoo smurfing technique. Significant drug busts were made as a result. But in 2014, the AFP changed its strategy. The agency shifted its focus away from targeting organised criminal activity and towards innocent victims of cuckoo smurfing. This action by the AFP continues to this day. This civil forfeiture action by the AFP has resulted in innocent people having to explain the source of their funds in court.
There are currently at least 20 cases that is before the Australian courts involving innocent people from various backgrounds, such as those sending money to their children studying here.
This issue should not be left to the courts to determine as the principal legislation involved, the Proceeds of Crime Act contains inadequate third-party protection mechanisms. Parliament intended that agencies involved in the enforcement of the Proceeds of Crime Act discharge their duties responsibly. This is not happening. Malkara Consulting calls for an inquiry by the Australian Senate into AFP forfeiture operations generally, including its handling of cuckoo smurfing cases and strategy to combat organised crime using civil forfeiture legislation. Holding a Senate inquiry will enable all interested and affected parties to make submissions and be heard on this important issue relating to human rights in Australia.