Construction sites across Australia should be ready for an unannounced visit from police at anytime, if they haven’t already received one. Many in the industry are shocked by the raids from police on several construction sites around the country to investigate what they suspect may be a money laundering syndicate. Police fear the syndicate may be preying on illegal workers and using them in the elaborate scheme which may be linked to the construction industry nationwide.
According to reports there have already been a number of raids on construction sites in Western Australia and Victoria last week. The raids form part of an investigation stretching 4 years.
Police believe the international syndicate could have its hands in the primary produce, entertainment and construction industries. Police have also apparently raided a number of businesses and seized computers and firearms. Several foreign workers have been detained in Perth’s northern fringe at a compound at Carabooda relating to the case.
Apparently these foreign workers are being exploited by the syndicate’s kingpins and being paid unfairly. They are apparently also being subjected to terrible living and working conditions, Western Australian assistant commissioner explained,
Describing their exploitation as a ‘human tragedy’ WA Police state crime assistant commissioner Craig Ward said the workers were living on the premises’ in sub-standard conditions and being paid below the award wage.
“These are people who are put through conditions that we wouldn’t accept,” he is quoted as saying on Australian Associated Press.
Authorities say at least thirty two charges have been made against suspects involved in the case. At least 19 people have been implicated in raids spanning the last few weekends. The leaders of the syndicate are believed to be 3 brothers from Western Australia.
Police have so far detained around 130 foreign nationals over the entire duration of the investigation and 70 alone were detained from the Carabooda property. The syndicate is apparently very sophisticated operating over a number of countries and Australian states and involves a number of companies, possibly even construction firms. The following excerpt from the Sourceable.net article explains:
Police say the group operates in a number of states and also overseas and that a complex web of money laundering and tax avoidance involving many companies is involved.
“These people are sophisticated” Australian federal police assistant commissioner Ramzi Jabbour said.
“They do receive advice from professional entities such as lawyers, accountants and the like for the specific purpose of avoiding and evading law enforcement.”
In addition to the illegal activities taking place on the construction and work sites involved another alarming factor is the number of workers being exploited. The chances are if these foreign workers aren’t even receiving a fair wage, their safety on site also doesn’t play a major role. This is a problem not only for these foreign labourers but everyone on site.
Anyone that sets foot onto a construction site needs to be aware of not only what the law says about their responsibilities with regards to health and safety but also what their rights are and the duties of their employer in ensuring their and everyone else’s health and safety.