Over 300 charges laid following investigation into law firm
The Crime and Corruption Commission (CCC) in Queensland has charged four individuals with fraud and money laundering offences, following an 18-month major crime investigation into the activities of a Brisbane-based law firm.
On Tuesday 24 November, the CCC charged three men and one woman with hundreds of offences, with the independent agency planning to allege that those four persons “were involved in serious fraud offences against a number of financial institutions” and that they “laundered the proceeds of serious criminal offences”.
The agency’s investigation, codenamed Operation Mercury, involved numerous search warrants executed at two Brisbane-based law firms, CCC said in a statement, as well as a number of business premises and private dwellings in Brisbane and the Gold Coast throughout the 18-month investigation.
The CCC has not named the law firm in question, nor the four individuals charged, but did say that it expects further charges to result from Operation Mercury.
The four individuals charged include a 45-year-old Helensvale man, who was served with a notice to appear in court to face: five counts of aggravated fraud, 89 counts of fraud, seven counts of fraudulent falsification of records and six counts of money laundering.
CCC noted that he is currently before the courts for a separate count of money laundering, relating to the seizure of $97,000 in cash on 24 February 2020.
The second individual is a 37-year-old Helensvale woman, who has been served with a notice to appear in court to face: one count of aggravated fraud, 76 counts of fraud, three counts of fraudulent falsification of records and three counts of money laundering.
The third individual is a 36-year-old Helensvale man, who has been served with a notice to appear in court to face: 12 counts of fraud, two counts of fraudulent falsification of records, one count of money laundering and one count of perjury.
The fourth and final individual is a 42-year-old Ascot man, who has been served with a notice to appear in court to face: six counts of aggravated fraud, 77 counts of fraud, seven counts of fraudulent falsification of records and seven counts of money laundering.
He was also previously charged in relation to one count of money laundering, relating to the seizure of $97,000 in cash on 24 February 2020 and was also charged in September 2020 with 12 counts of supplying a dangerous drug, CCC noted.
The quartet are expected to appear before the Brisbane Magistrates Court on 11 January 2021.
The charges brought follow the recent charging of a 25-year-old Norman Park man and a 42-year-old Narangba man, who – in alleged offences pertaining to this operation – were each charged with one count of supplying a dangerous drug on 18 September 2020.
These matters remain before the court, CCC noted.
In a statement, CCC chairperson Alan MacSporran QC said that the scale of the alleged offending identified during Operation Mercury “demonstrates why the CCC has a continued focus on the enablers of major and organised crime”.
“The CCC has an investigative focus on not just those who directly engage in major crime, but those individuals and groups of people who facilitate and enable it. Sophisticated business models, specialised systems and expertise are needed for organised crime groups to operate effectively. It is disappointing and concerning that some of the allegations relate to the legal profession,” Mr MacSporran said.
“The CCC will continue to direct its efforts on the systems and expertise that enable criminal networks to build and thrive by targeting those that enable and support serious criminal offending, and to make Queensland a hostile place to engage in crime for profit and to accumulate criminal wealth.”
CCC said it will not be commenting further, for the twofold reason that charges are now before the court and the investigation remains ongoing.