Govt launches crackdown on organised crime

The Government is planning changes designed to improve cyber-crime investigation as part of a new focus on organised crime. File photo / Thinkstock
The Government is planning changes designed to improve cyber-crime investigation as part of a new focus on organised crime. File photo / Thinkstock

Laws and processes will be changed as part of a Government crackdown on organised crime.

The Government today released an all of government plan, Strengthening New Zealand's Resistance to Organised Crime.

The plan, developed by the Ministry of Justice with police, the Organised and Financial Crime Agency (OFCANZ), Serious Fraud Office, Ministry of Economic Development, and other agencies, would see legislative and operational changes to improve:

# Information sharing, mutual legal assistance and co-operation between domestic agencies and international counterparts.

# Measures to prevent 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.

Police Minister Judith Collins said organised criminal groups were 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."

Ms Collins said money underpinned crime and the Government was stepping up efforts to confiscate the proceeds of crime and work more closely with the financial sector to ensure criminals could not exploit rules or systems.

Justice Minister Simon Power asked his sector and regulatory agencies to work more closely.

"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 plan would be implemented over three years and reviewed annually.

The first phase would see legislation passed to remove impediments to the effective combating of organised crime, and disrupting key tools and processes used by organised criminals.

It was 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.

- NZPA

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