Lawyers involved in ‘illegal’ practice
LAWYERS have been involved in supporting a Queensland methamphetamine and cannabis trafficking network, a Crime and Corruption Commission annual report has revealed.
The CCC said it had conducted hearings, in support of Queensland Police organised crime investigations, into legal practitioners alleged to be supporting drug trafficking.
"The hearings revealed evidence of involvement by the lawyers in fraud and money laundering, as well as involvement in the alleged trafficking activity,'' the recently released 2017-18 annual report said.
It did not say if any arrests had yet been made.
The CCC said in the last year it had undertaken an intelligence assessment of the use of professional facilitators by Queensland organised crime groups.
It looked at the types of professions used by organised criminals and the methods crime groups used to recruit them.
"The CCC conducted research examining factors that make legal practitioners vulnerable to criminal offending and being targeted by organised crime groups,'' the report said.
"This research resulted in an internal report used to inform coercive hearings.''
The CCC said in the 2017-18 financial year, it conducted two investigations into allegations of "professional facilitators'' of major crime, resulting in 13 criminal charges.
The investigations were ongoing, the report said.
The Commission said organised crime gangs, including Outlaw Motorcycle Gangs, often used or sought out industry professionals and service providers to "facilitate'' their criminal activities.
The report said facilitators could help criminals avoid detection when laundering money by adding legitimacy to financial transactions or by exploring legal loopholes to support or disguise criminal activity.
Facilitators could also transport and store illicit goods and contact and communicate with intended fraud victims.
They could also provide access to communication facilities, such as business phone, fax or email, so criminals could communicate with each other.
That would allow the criminals to use the business as "a shield'', the report said.