THERE IS evidence of increasing involvement by legal professionals in serious organised crime and outlaw motorcycle gangs, a parliamentary inquiry into organised crime has found.
According to the South Australia Police crime service assistant commissioner, Tony Harrison, what he called lawyers and solicitors are included among other technical experts who are increasingly involved in organise crime.
“There is certainly evidence of increasing involvement by technical experts, if you like — people who have financial accounting skills, lawyers, solicitors and others who we are finding in real estate and other industries — who have direct linkages with serious organised crime and particularly outlaw motorcycle gangs,” he said.
Giving evidence at the Joint Committee on the Australian Crime Commission last month on the future impact of serious and organised crime on Australian society, Harrison said that while organised crime was typically in areas such as drug distribution, firearms and car rebirthing, opportunistic people are “dabbling” in any industry for the purpose of making money. There is not a great deal of loyalty within particular jurisdictions, he said.
Harrison said there had been a diversification within industries and across industries, which has included professionals such as lawyers making money in organised crime where possible.
“Certainly, there is diversification within legitimate as well as illegitimate businesses, and I would suggest that is certainly going to be a challenge for law enforcement in the future. Once organised crime figures and enterprises become entrenched within legitimate businesses, it certainly makes it far harder for law enforcement to investigate, detect, gather evidence and subsequently prosecute,” he said.
There is a move into those industries and “there is no doubt it is for the purpose of, in the broadest of terms, enabling money laundering and disguising the black money, the proceeds of the criminal activities”, he said.
Other jurisdictions, territories and states within Australia have seen similar evidence, the inquiry found, as have overseas areas such as the UK, Canada and New Zealand.
From a South Australian perspective, very close direct linkages between organised crime and outlaw motorcycle gangs had also been found. As experts such as lawyers are found in organised crime groups, motorcycle gangs improve their status within the organised crime world by being involved with them.
“I think the outlaw motorcycle gangs see it as improving their status within the serious organised crime world, if you like. From the perspective of the more traditional serious organised crime figures, I think they like the associations because they can call upon the outlaw motorcycle gangs for, I guess, debt collection, extortion, blackmail, intimidation and violence.
“There is no doubt that it is a two-way process and that the outlaw motorcycle gangs are infiltrating more widely into serious organised crime, but also the more traditional serious organised crime figures want to be seen and want to have linkages with outlaw motorcycle gangs,” said Harrison.