NSW laws for unexplained wealth, devices

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Unexplained cash and luxury cars are in the sights of NSW authorities as the government backs in new police powers to seize the proceeds of organised crime gangs.

World-leading legislation targeting money laundering will also make it a crime to have an encrypted phone or device.

Premier Dominic Perrottet says the new police powers will strike at the heart of organised crime networks – their finances.

Acting Police Commissioner David Hudson says a young Lamborghini driver could be pulled over and asked to explain how they got behind the wheel of such a nice car.

“We would certainly be talking to the driver of that vehicle,” he told reporters on Thursday.

While property can’t be seized without a court order under the legislation, it will empower police to get ahead of organised crime.

“Historically, unexplained wealth legislation has really been dependent on us proving a serious road-related offence and the unexplained wealth falling out of that,” Mr Hudson said.

“I’ve always said we, as police, probably only catch the dumb criminals. Most of the time they draw attention to themselves by drive-by shootings.”

He said the new laws will put police on the front foot and allow them to target criminals with unexplained wealth first.

Mr Perrottet says the laws will bring world-leading reforms.

“It will strike organised crime where it hurts the most, and that is their bank accounts,” the premier said.

The new laws also make it a crime to hold an encrypted device or phone, a popular communication tool for criminal networks.

Mr Hudson said the companies providing encrypted devices are also run by organised criminals.

The NSW Police Force works with the AFP and the Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission to tackle the overseas operators of the devices.

“What we deal with on the ground here on the state (level) is the product of those platforms, which is the devices themselves, and that’s what we have the ability to impact on in the legislation proposed today,” Mr Hudson said.

Police Minister Paul Toole says police have been asking for new ways to tackle organised crime.

“These encrypted devices are being used to smuggle firearms and smuggle drugs,” Mr Toole said.

“They’re being used for money laundering, and in some cases they’re being used to plan murders.”

Opposition Leader Chris Minns says Labor will consider the legislation when it comes before parliament.

Labor also proposed its own Unexplained Wealth bill in the upper house, which he suggested the government support.

“We’ve got a piece of legislation that we’re currently moving through the Legislative Council that we hope the government would support,” Mr Minns said.

He said Labor would not oppose the government’s bill if it had broad support.

“Maybe they should have supported our legislation without bringing their own,” Mr Minns said.

It comes after NSW Police received a $168.8 million boost in Tuesday’s budget after a spate of gang-related public shootings in Sydney.

The funds take the total policing budget for 2022/23 to $5.5 billion.

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