The NSW government will introduce laws to confiscate unexplained wealth from criminal gangs and ban the use of encrypted devices as part of long-awaited reforms to combat money laundering and organized crime.
A lightning-fast cabinet meeting late Wednesday night approved the new measures designed to paralyze the finances of criminal networks, prevent criminals from taking advantage of their actions and invalidate them financially.
The new powers allow for the confiscation of illegally acquired assets from major convicted drug smugglers and extend powers to stop and search for unexplained wealth.
Senior ministers have been working on new laws to deal with the benefits of crime and unexplained wealth since last year, when top police secret briefings warned that organized crime in NSW was out of controll.
In December, police assistant Stuart Smith warned cabinet ministers and senior officials about it organized crime was widespread and anti-organized crime laws in NSW were abysmal.
Days after this briefing, Prime Minister Dominic Perrottet was also provided with the same condemning update from Smith, a senior government source with knowledge of the talks has confirmed.
That month, Attorney General Mark Speakman and then-Police Secretary David Elliott began working on laws to tackle unexplained wealth. Work continues under the new Police Secretary Paul Toole.
Perrottet said the new powers would help police infiltrate criminal networks.
“Organized crime is about the supply of drugs and money – and to really shut it down, we need to shut down the flow of dollars that drives it,” Perrottet said.