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Public officials go down in smoke for helping import illegal tobacco

Australian Commission for Law Enforcement Integrity
Date published
December 2020

Relevant impacts: Reputational impact, government system impact and security impact

A NSW Police Force Officer bribed a former Australian Border Force (ABF) Officer for information to help a criminal group illegally import tobacco products. The NSW Police Force Officer was a love interest and a former colleague of the ABF Officer.

The ABF Officer abused his position to conduct unauthorised searches of ABF systems and provide information on which shipping companies to use to avoid detection. The criminal group used this information to smuggle in tobacco to attempt to avoid $6 million in tax.

The crime was uncovered by a covert police investigation that had begun prior to the ABF Officer becoming involved with the criminal group.

The ABF Officer was convicted of offences of receiving a bribe and aiding and abetting with the intention to defraud revenue. The ABF Officer was also ordered to forfeit $1.8 million of assets to the Australian Government.

The NSW Police Force Officer pleaded guilty to bribing a public official, aiding and abetting the importation of tobacco with the intent to defraud revenue, and dealing with proceeds of crime greater than $100,000.

Related countermeasures

Internal or external audits or reviews evaluate the process, purpose and outcome of activities. Clients, public officials or contractors can take advantage of weaknesses in government programs and systems to commit fraud, act corruptly, and avoid exposure.

Coordinate disruption activities across multiple programs or entities to strengthen processes and identify serious and organised criminals targeting multiple programs. It can also include referrals to law enforcement agencies for those groups that reach the threshold for complex criminal investigations.

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