The audit objective was to assess whether the Australian Federal Police (AFP), Australian Financial Security Authority (AFSA) and the Attorney–General’s Department (AGD) effectively carried out key operational and advisory functions related to property and proceeds under the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002.
To form a conclusion against the audit objective, the ANAO adopted the following high-level audit criteria:
- effective restraint is achieved by the AFP and/or AFSA through the timely implementation of appropriate court orders;
- AFSA administers restrained property in an efficient and economical manner and consistent with relevant court orders;
- AFSA disposes of forfeited property in an appropriate manner and transfers the net proceeds to the Confiscated Assets Account;
- AGD provides advice to the Minister for Justice on which proposals for funding from the Confiscated Assets Account represent the best value for money; and
- the AFP and AFSA report against benchmarked performance measures.
The AFP, AFSA and AGD effectively carry out key operational and advisory functions related to property and proceeds under the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002.
Risk based planning procedures are in place for deciding which property should be restrained and what conditions should be placed on the property when seeking a restraining order. The manner in which restraining orders are implemented depends on the type of property under restraint. For the major classes of property, AFP and AFSA processes have worked well and custody and control of property has been achieved in a way that minimises the risk of the property being dissipated.
AFSA has appropriate custodial arrangements in place for all types of property. Legislative and administrative constraints currently limit the ability the of Official Trustee to achieve improved rates of return from the substantial amount of funds held in the restrained and forfeited monies bank accounts and the Confiscated Assets Account. AFSA also manages property in a way that is consistent with the relevant court orders and disposes of forfeited property in an appropriate manner in order to maximise the sale proceeds.
The AGD has established effective processes to identify the possible use of funds from the Confiscated Assets Account. It has also advised the Minister for Justice on proposals to assist in achieving value for money from expenditure. During the financial years 2010–11 to 2015–16, the main beneficiaries of funding have been Commonwealth law enforcement and criminal intelligence agencies. Significant funding has also been approved for non-government, community organisation and local council projects, with the New South Wales, Victorian and Queensland police forces also receiving funding.
The AFP publicly reports the estimated recovery value of property restrained each year. When combined with the Australian Crime Commission’s (ACC’s) public reporting of the estimated value of property confiscated each year, this illustrates the trends in the amount of criminal proceeds intercepted by the POCA scheme. AFSA also undertakes limited public reporting on its administration of property. This reporting does not include information on the costs of administering property under its custody and control, which is an important aspect of its overall performance in relation to the proceeds of crime. However, AFSA has made some improvements in its internal reporting capacity about the costs of managing property and is in the early stages of developing benchmarks for some aspects of these costs.