ACT police have seized $500,000 worth of property belonging to an outlaw bikie gang leader under new “unexplained wealth” laws.
- New laws have been used for the first time to seize about $500,000 worth of property owned by Nomads bikie gang boss Michael Clark
- Detectives have previously confiscated two luxury cars and other items belonging to Mr Clark, who was arrested in August over several shootings
- ACT police say they expect to seize more of Mr Clark’s assets in future
The police operation took place simultaneously across four locations last Thursday, targeting Nomads motorcycle gang national president Michael Clark.
Police confiscated three boats, fishing equipment, trailers and a caravan in the Batemans Bay area, as well as three Harley Davidson motorcycles in Canberra.
The property adds to two prestige cars and other items already seized from Mr Clark after his arrest in August.
Mr Clark was one of 11 people arrested as part of a cross-border investigation of several shootings on the New South Wales South Coast in December 2019.
The 32-year-old was extradited to NSW and charged with knowingly directing the activities of a criminal group, taking part in a criminal group, supplying banned firearms and supplying ammunition.
He was refused bail and remains in custody.
After his arrest, police raided two properties in Canberra suburbs Kingston and Kambah, and allegedly found a gun, illicit drugs, jewellery and bikie paraphernalia, including patches.
Legal changes provide broader powers to confiscate property
With Mr Clark behind bars, ACT authorities have used new laws targeting unexplained wealth to seize some of his assets.
Policing Detective Superintendent Scott Moller warned his team were not done yet investigating the bikie boss.
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“Certainly this investigation is not over and I’d imagine there will be further items seized in the future,” he said.
It is the first time the powerful new laws have been used.
In the past, authorities were only able to confiscate assets if a person had committed a serious offence and there was a link between the crime and their assets.
But the amended confiscation of criminal assets laws mean authorities now need only to suspect that a person’s wealth is due to criminal activity, because their lawfully acquired wealth is less than their total wealth.
“It’s very clear when an offender doesn’t have the financial income to support their lifestyle,” Superintendent Moller said.
“Many offenders or crime syndicates may believe that, once money has been invested in an asset such as property, it’s safe.
“But we’ll prove that if you’re making money out of it, it’s not safe, and we’ll be taking your house and anything else that may be connected to your criminal behaviour.”
Victims of crime benefit as police take back criminal income
After an alleged offender’s assets are confiscated, they can be forfeited and become ACT property.
The forfeited assets are then usually sold off, with much of the proceeds spent helping victims of crime.
Over the past two years, authorities restrained about $7.2 million worth of property, and about $2.8 million was forfeited to the ACT.
ACT Director of Public Prosecutions Shane Drumgold, SC, said the law was a powerful tool that deprived criminals of a financial windfall and ensured crime did not pay.
“The best way to reduce crime is to remove the incentive to commit the crime in the first place,” Mr Drumgold said.
“If there’s no benefit in engaging in criminal activity, there’s a disincentive to engage in that criminal activity, so it’s really about breaking the business model of organised crime.
“It’s in everyone’s interest to disincentivise the conduct of crime — the territory wants to be an inhospitable environment for criminal gangs.”
Superintendent Moller said ACT Policing would continue to use several investigative strategies and laws to disrupt organised crime.
“Our end game is that there’s no profit in crime in Canberra and our detectives are using these new unexplained wealth laws to make sure of that,” he said.
“Removing assets limits offenders from re-investing money in illegal activities or expanding their wealth to commit more crime.”