Thursday September 5 2013
– Criminals are keeping their proceeds of crime because of a failure of Victoria Police and other agencies to manage the confiscation program, a scathing Auditor-General’s report has found.
Auditor General John Doyle found police were not “maximising opportunities to identify such assets as related to profit-motivated serious and organised crime” in his report on the asset-confiscation scheme.
“The scheme is not operating as effectively or efficiently as it should.
“Its ability to deprive people of the proceeds of crime, and to deter and disrupt further criminal activity, is hampered by weaknesses in the way that assets are identified for confiscation, and by how the scheme is governed,” Mr Doyle said.
He found poor cooperation between agencies, a lack of planning and leadership and a failure to make the most of investigative tools had contributed to the system’s failings.
The Criminal Proceeds Squad, within Victoria Police, was also more focused on victims of crime.
Despite the scheme’s failure, Mr Doyle said the State Government had committed to increase funding to the agencies responsible with $53.5 million set aside for the next four years.
In 2012-13, the scheme confiscated $55.2 million of assets. This was down from $121 million of assets confiscated in 2008-09.
Mr Doyle made 25 recommendations to improve the system but said it was hard to evaluate the performance because the scheme did not have any guiding objectives.
“Ultimately, Victoria Police is not maximising opportunities to identify assets for confiscation.”
Police Chief Commissioner Ken Lay said Victoria Police accepted each of the recommendations.
“This audit has come at a time when the Victoria Police Criminal Proceeds a Squad is undergoing significant change in the way it conducts its work,” he said.
“I welcome the insights and recommendations arising from this audit process as a constructive contribution to improving the performance of the scheme.”
Opposition attorney general spokesman Martin Pakula said the Government had failed to oversee the scheme, with its management group failing to meet for two years.
“The Napthine Government’s asset confiscation activities are weak – allowing organised crime figures to hide their assets and profit from their illegal activities,” he said.
– Michelle Ainsworth