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Gov't announces plan to fight organised crime

Gov't announces plan to fight organised crime

The Government today announced its plan for a multi-agency offensive on organised crime.

Strengthening New Zealand's Resistance to Organised Crime, an All-of-Government Response, outlines a plan to disrupt criminal networks.

It involves legislative and operational changes to improve:

* Information sharing, mutual legal assistance and co-operation between domestic agencies and international counterparts.
* Protections against the misuse of New Zealand legal arrangements, such as companies and trusts.
* Protections against bribery and corruption.
* Anti-money laundering measures.
* Cyber-crime investigation and enforcement provisions.
* Protections against identity crime.

Justice Minister Simon Power and Police Minister Judith Collins said that as well as signalling an escalation in the fight against criminal networks, the plan places a stronger focus on disrupting the money trail underpinning offending.

The plan has been developed by the Ministry of Justice in collaboration with Police, the Organised and Financial Crime Agency (OFCANZ), Serious Fraud Office, Ministry of Economic Development, and other agencies. It enhances collaboration between justice sector and regulatory agencies and the private sector in New Zealand and abroad.

Ms Collins said organised criminal groups in New Zealand and internationally are increasingly turning to cyber-crime and financial crimes such as identity theft, fraud, tax evasion and money laundering.

"There is also an increasing convergence between criminals and businesses in finance, transport, private security, entertainment, real estate and various trade related industries in New Zealand," she said.

"These partnerships facilitate their real businesses - violence, extortion, drug running, fraud, money laundering and counterfeit goods.

"Eradicating organised crime and the misery in its wake is one of the major law and order priorities of this Government.

"Money underpins crime, so Government agencies are stepping up efforts to confiscate the proceeds of crime and work more closely with the financial sector to ensure there are no weak links in our rules and systems that criminals can exploit."

Mr Power said he had asked justice sector and regulatory agencies to work more closely across the range of justice sector activities, and the response to organised crime shows the benefits of that approach.

"A number of legislative reforms are before Parliament or are being developed, which will address key issues.

"We've done a lot already to fight organised crime, and we've been successful.

"But these networks can change tactics rapidly to take advantage of gaps in laws, technology, trade, and financial systems, so our response needs to be equally adaptable and, more importantly, use all the resources we have at our disposal."

The response will be implemented over three years. Priorities, actions, and agency responsibilities will be reviewed annually and reported to Cabinet to ensure the work is responsive to emerging challenges.

The initial phase will involve legislation to remove impediments to the effective combating of organised crime, and disrupting key tools and processes used by organised criminals.

It is proposed for report back to Cabinet in August next year, and will be progressed through an omnibus Organised Crime Amendment Bill agreed for inclusion in the 2012 legislative programme.

New Zealand has a well-established base for responding to organised crime, with the OFCANZ, a biennial organised crime threat assessment, and a robust legislative framework.

This has been strengthened by recent initiatives, including the multi-agency Action Plan on Methamphetamine, the Police's methamphetamine and organised crime control strategies, enhanced criminal proceeds recovery and anti-money laundering legislation, and the National Cyber Security Strategy.

Strengthening New Zealand's Resistance to Organised Crime, an All-of-Government Response can be found here www.justice.govt.nz/publications/global-publications/s/strengthening-new-zealands-resistance-to-organised-crime.

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