find the latest legal job
Corporate/Commercial Lawyers (2-5 years PAE)
Category: Corporate and Commercial Law | Location: Adelaide SA 5000
· Specialist commercial law firm · Long-term career progression
View details
Graduate Lawyer / Up to 1.5 yr PAE Lawyer
Category: Personal Injury Law | Location: Brisbane CBD & Inner Suburbs Brisbane QLD
· Mentoring Opportunity in Regional QLD · Personal Injury Law
View details
Corporate and Commercial Partner
Category: Corporate and Commercial Law | Location: Adelaide SA 5000
· Full time · Join a leading Adelaide commercial law firm
View details
In-house Legal Counsel & Commercial Lawyers
Category: Corporate and Commercial Law | Location: All Sydney NSW
· Providing lawyers with flexibility and control over when they work, how they work and who they work for.
View details
In-house Legal Counsel & Commercial Lawyers
Category: Corporate and Commercial Law | Location: All Melbourne VIC
· Providing lawyers with flexibility and control over when they work, how they work and who they work for.
View details
Bikie companies new target

Bikie companies new target

Proposed changes to the Corporations Act to disqualify bikie gang members from holding company directorships have been met by concerns from legal experts who spoke to Lawyers Weekly on…

Proposed changes to the Corporations Act to disqualify bikie gang members from holding company directorships have been met by concerns from legal experts who spoke to Lawyers Weekly on Wednesday.

The State Government is pushing for changes to the Federal law to prevent bikies, who are deemed to be part of a crime group, becoming company secretaries and other officers and automatically disqualifying them from controlling companies.

The changes aim to target the manufacture and distribution of drugs as well as money laundering activities

Professor Mark Findlay, deputy director of the Institute of Criminology at the University of Sydney, told Lawyers Weekly the suggested changes are problematic and that the legislative reform appears to be a moral panic about bikie violence.

"I think, basically, what we have is an example of politicians wanting to be seen to do something and they suggest the answer is in tinkering with fairly fundamental legal arrangements. Those who argue in favour of legislative change need to establish more convincingly that rebel bike gangs are using dummy corporations to advance their criminal activity. I don't think the evidence for that is clear," he said.

The ramifications of the proposed changes for companies in general should be seriously considered by the legal fraternity, said Professor Findlay.

"Because if government responds to concerns by, if you like, breaking down the privacy protections that relate to company transactions, then what's to stop them doing that in relation to any company activity which we identify in the future as being problematic," he said.

Associate Professor Michael Head from the University of Western Sydney agreed the powers could be misused.

"[A bikie] organisation can get caught up in these powers without being convicted of anything, but just on the basis of allegations. If it's now being said that the [powers] should be taken into corporations it's just magnifying the possibilities for use or abuse for other purposes that go far beyond certainly dealing with bikie gangs or genuine crime," he said

Professor Findlay also said there were already myriad regulatory options in Australia such as fairly comprehensive anti-money laundering legislations as well other regulations such as the Commonwealth Criminal Code, which could be used for prosecutions.

"I mean we haven't seen any prosecutions against companies that are supposedly operating as a shield for rebel bike gangs and I think that a part of that problem is that we don't have enough information - rather than enough power - to prosecute them," he said.

"To get that additional information there's an argument that could be said that perhaps we need to free up our police intelligence a little so that we know more about what it is that these organisations do," he said.

Dr Andreas Schloenhardt, from the University of Queensland TC Beirne School of Law, told Lawyers Weekly theidea behind the newly introduced laws and further proposals is to prevent members of outlaw motorcycle gangs (OMCG) influencing or taking over certain industries.

The new NSW laws bar persons under a control order from having gambling, firearms, liquor, and crowd control licences and the industries targeted are those that are seen as particularly vulnerable to OMCG infiltration, he said.

"There is a part of me that thinks that this measure is quite a useful and inexpensive way of sanctioning known organised crime figures that may have wider application," he said.

"On the other hand, more sophisticated groups, and more sophisticated individuals, would probably be smart enough to avoid having control orders imposed on them. For example by keeping connections to criminal gangs more clandestine."

The nation's attorneys-general will meet in Canberra Thursday and Friday, with the new proposal high on the agenda for discussion.

- Sarah Sharples

Like this story? Read more:

QLS condemns actions of disgraced lawyer as ‘stain on the profession’

NSW proposes big justice reforms to target risk of reoffending

The legal budget breakdown 2017

Bikie companies new target
lawyersweekly logo
Promoted content
Recommended by Spike Native Network
more from lawyers weekly
Jackie Rhodes
Dec 12 2017
Report sheds light on LGBTQI inclusion in law firms
A recent report has revealed the varying perceptions on LGBTQI diversity and inclusion in the Austra...
Women in business
Dec 12 2017
Annabel Crabb headlines Women in Business Forum
Political journalist Annabel Crabb has appeared at the Coleman Greig Lawyers Women in Business Forum...
Dec 11 2017
Warm welcome for new district court judges
Three practitioners who were appointed as district court judges in WA have been congratulated by ...
APPOINTMENTS
Allens managing partner Richard Spurio, image courtesy Allens' website
Jun 21 2017
Promo season at Allens
A group of lawyers at Allens have received promotions across its PNG and Australian offices. ...
May 11 2017
Partner exits for in-house role
A Victorian lawyer has left the partnership of a national firm to start a new gig with state governm...
Esteban Gomez
May 11 2017
National firm recruits ‘major asset’
A national law firm has announced it has appointed a new corporate partner who brings over 15 years'...
opinion
Nicole Rich
May 16 2017
Access to justice for young transgender Australians
Reform is looming for the process that young transgender Australians and their families must current...
Geoff Roberson
May 11 2017
The lighter side of the law: when law and comedy collide
On the face of it, there doesn’t seem to be much that is amusing about the law, writes Geoff Rober...
Help
May 10 2017
Advocate’s immunity – without fear or without favour but not both
On 29 March 2017, the High Court handed down its decision in David Kendirjian v Eugene Lepore & ...