51-year-old Rafael Estrada and 28-year-old Marcos Rivera who’re Guatemalan nationals have been arrested and charged after police discover over $1.3 million in cash in a storage unit and apartment in Sydney.
The investigation that led to the arrests was part of an investigation into a large-scale international money-laundering syndicate.
It’s alleged that the two men who have been arrested were involved in this syndicate who were in Sydney for the purposes of money laundering for the syndicate.
Both men were on tourist visas, and were arrested by authorities.
It is reported that Estrada was trying to travel from Sydney to Chile on Sunday when he was arrested at the Sydney International Airport on Sunday morning.
The timing of Estrada attempting to depart Australia was also suspicious as it was only within 24-hours from the time authorities discovered the two bags containing the cash in an Annandale storage unit.
The two bags found had $1.25 million in cash inside it.
Following the discovery of the money and arrests, Estrada was escorted to the Mascot police station where they were refused bail and charged with offences of proceeds of crime valued at more than $100,000 and participation in a criminal group.
Estrada was refused bail by both the police and Parramatta Local Court on Monday.
His co-accused, Rivera was also found and arrested at his Bondi Beach hotel, where police discovered $80,000 cash .
He was subsequently taken to the Waverley Police Station before facing the same charges.
The investigation led to Strike Force Muirhead, while police say that they now expect more arrests to occur as their investigations continue.
For more information of proceeds of crime offences under NSW law, call our 24/7 hotline to speak with one of our experienced criminal lawyers today.
Section 193C Crimes Act 1900 (NSW) prescribes heavy penalties for the offence of dealing with property suspected of being proceeds of crime in NSW.
If value of property is more than $5,000: The maximum sentence in the Local Court for committing this crime if a fine of $11,000 and/or imprisonment of 2-years.
If value of property either $5,000 or less: The maximum sentence in the Local Court for committing this crime is $5,500 fine and/or imprisonment of 2-years.
If value of property is $2,000 or less: The maximum sentence in the Local Court is $2,200 fine and/or imprisonment of 2-years.
If value of property is $100,000 or more: The maximum sentence in the District court is 5-years imprisonment.
If value of property is less than $100,000: The maximum sentence in the District Court is 3-years imprisonment.
To be guilty of the offence of dealing with proceeds of crime, the prosecution is required to prove the following element beyond reasonable doubt:
- The accused dealt with the property; and
- The accused did so where there were reasonable grounds to suspect that the property was proceeds of crime.
‘Reasonable grounds to suspect’ includes suspicion based on more than a possibility but less than a reasonable belief.
The court can determine whether such a reasonable grounds to suspect the property was proceeds of crime by considering the following factors:
- The value of the property is grossly out of proportion to the persona’s income and expenses.
- Where the accused claims that the dealing was on behalf of or at the request of another person, yet fails to provide details for police to identify & locate that other person.
- The dealing(s) of the alleged property included multiple transaction structured or managed in a way to avoid reporting.
- The dealing(s) of the property included the use of 1 or more accounts held with an authorised deposit- taking institution in false name(s).
What is dealing with property? This here is when a person engages either directly or indirectly in transaction(s) such as receiving or making a gift. This is expressed in section 193A Crimes Act 1900 (NSW).
What is ‘proceeds of crime’? This here involves property substantially derived or realised, directly or indirectly by a person from the commission of a serious offence.
What is a common defence to this charge? A common defence to proceeds of crime in NSW is a claim that you didn’t have ‘reasonable grounds to suspect’ that the property in question was substantially derived from the commission of a serious crime, or that you did not ‘deal’ with the property.