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AFP seizes $17.3 million of Australian real estate

An aerial shot of the Mont Albert property.
The seized "supersized" mansion in Mont Albert. (Image: AFP)

The Australian Federal Police has seized $17.3 million of real estate as a part of its investigation into Chinese nationals accused of money laundering.

The properties, restrained on Tuesday, include a newly built "supersized" mansion, three new apartments, a townhouse and a commercial building – all in suburban Melbourne.

Over in Tasmania, more than 1200 hectares of farmland on the north-east coast were seized.

The investigation, codenamed Operation Gethen, was started in 2017 after the Chinese Ministry of Public Security (MPS) requested assistance in catching two people accused of real estate and bank loan fraud in China.

The two Chinese citizens are alleged to have used $23 million made from those crimes in China to purchase the Australian properties.

The Box Hill North townhouse.
The seized townhouse in Box Hill North, Melbourne. (Image: AFP)
Commercial property in Blackburn.
Commercial building in Blackburn, Melbourne that was restrained. (Image: AFP)

"The AFP has now restrained $50 million since formalising our partnership with the Chinese MPS in 2017. This is $50 million that has been taken out of the criminal economy," said AFP detective superintendent Kate Ferry.

"Money laundering – where significant criminal proceeds are moved into Australian assets – is far from a victimless crime. It impacts our whole community by eroding the level playing field for Australian homebuyers and small business owners."

The investigation into the two purchasers are continuing.

Ferry said the property seizure showed the value of international cooperation.

Apartments in Box Hill, Melbourne.
New apartments seized in Box Hill, Melbourne. (Image: AFP)
An aerial shot of the farmland in Tasmania.
The restrained farmland in Tasmania. (Image: AFP)

"This outcome sends a strong message to people thinking about evading foreign governments and police agencies. We are working with our international counterparts to stop proceeds of crime being laundered in Australia – we will catch you eventually."

The precise properties seized this week were:

  • A newly built mansion in Mont Albert, Melbourne

  • Three new residential flats in Box Hill North, Melbourne

  • A townhouse in Box Hill North, Melbourne

  • A commercial building in Blackburn, Melbourne

  • More than 1200 hectares of farmland on the north-east coast of Tasmania

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