Australian Federal Police officers have smashed an organised crime syndicate seizing a record $150 million haul of assets, including mansions, property in western Sydney, cryptocurrency, designer watches and handbags.
Assistant Commissioner Kirsty Schofield said nine people arrested on Wednesday would face court on Thursday, with the leader of the crime group facing up to 25 years in jail if convicted.
The gang allegedly operated as an "underground bank" moving proceeds of crime between overseas accounts from 2018-2022, bypassing international financial systems.
"This is the largest restraint of assets that the AFP has undertaken," Assistant Commissioner Kirsty Schofield said.
The AFP-led Criminal Assets Confiscation Taskforce has obtained restraining orders over 20 properties in Sydney, including a 360ha plot of land near the site of Sydney's second international airport valued at $47 million.
Ms Schofield described the land involved as "essentially the size of a suburb".
Also seized were mansions in Sydney's eastern suburbs worth a combined $19 million, $29 million in cryptocurrency and multiple commercial buildings in Sydney's CBD and surrounds.
Police also took possession of luxury vehicles, multiple bank accounts, 18 designer watches, 17 designer handbags and 46 pieces of designer jewellery.
"We know today's details may be infuriating for many Australians, especially giving the overwhelming majority of Australians who work very hard to earn their money," Ms Schofield said.
The investigation is ongoing and more assets could still be seized.
"Today I'm sending a warning to organised crime groups involved in money laundering activities - you are on our radar," she said.
Australian Associated Press