CRG Exploring the procedural barriers to securing unexplained wealth orders in Australia

Australia’s unexplained wealth laws form part of a range of measures introduced in response to growing concern about the prevalence and impact of organised crime. The confiscation of criminal assets, including through the use of unexplained wealth legislation, seeks to undermine the business model of organised crime by removing its financial return, punishing offenders, compensating society, preventing the improper use of assets and deterring participation in crime. Although approximately $800m in assets have been confiscated across Australia over the last two decades, only a small proportion of this was confiscated through the application of unexplained wealth laws—possibly as little as $9m since the laws were first introduced in 2000. This report examines the policies and procedures that have been used in almost all of Australia’s states and territories, and at Commonwealth level, to restrain and confiscate unexplained wealth derived from the proceeds of crime. It identifies barriers to their implementation and explores ways in which procedural reforms could be made to improve confiscation of the proceeds of crime of Australia’s most serious criminals.