In the process of investigating an alleged illegal brothel syndicate ACT Policing have seized and restrained assets worth over $10 million, the largest in the Territory’s history.
The restraint of multiple assets has come about following an ongoing investigation that began in March 2020 after an illegal brothel was discovered in the city during a COVID-19 compliance check.
“It first came to our attention through the community complaining about the traffic through one of these premises,” ACT Policing Detective Superintendent Scott Moller said.
That launched a more extensive investigation by ACT police into the woman leading that brothel.
The woman was found to have multiple illegal brothels operating nationally, with sites in the ACT, NSW and Queensland.
“There are numerous people involved, it’s a significant business that’s been operating across at least three states.”
Multiple bank accounts, cash and seven properties, mostly apartments, have been restrained to date.
Just yesterday, Monday 10 May, ACT Policing’s Financial Investigations Team successfully applied to the Supreme Court for the restraint of two properties worth approximately $2.8 million.
“Assets including houses can be restrained by ACT Policing no matter where they’re located. We’re also committed to stripping all offenders of assets and wealth derived from the proceeds of crime,” Detective Superintendent Moller said.
“Our aim is to take the assets from these people so they can’t reinvest that into other criminal activity.”
The restraint of assets is a matter between the police and the respondent that will go before a civil court. Police will allege the money used to purchase these properties is the proceeds of crime.
Should the courts rule in favour of the police the assets in question will be forfeited to the ACT Government.
At this stage police have found no evidence of sex trafficking, and to date no one has been arrested in relation to this matter.
However, the investigation is ongoing and there is a chance charges will be laid in the future.
“For us, the most important part of this investigation was seizing and restraining the assets,” Detective Superintendent Moller said.
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