More than half a million dollars in cash has been restrained and bank accounts targeted following New Zealand's largest ever cocaine bust.
Police sought two restraining orders today in the High Court at Auckland against two men accused of helping to sneak $20 million worth of cocaine off a container ship in Tauranga Harbour.
The Maersk Antares arrived from Chile late on October 31, before a group of people approached the vessel under the cover of darkness, retrieving 46kg of cocaine from a hidden compartment on the exterior of the hull, police allege.
Matthew Scott, Mario Habulin, Benjamin Northway, and Deni Cavallo were all arrested after the cocaine was seized.
On November 10, the Commissioner of Police filed an application seeking to restrain $623,497 of cash assets, and $100,000 in an ASB term deposit account.
The cash belonged to Scott, while the funds in the accounts were linked to Habulin, counsel for the commissioner Tyler Bellingham told the court today.
Justice Timothy Brewer ordered that the cash belonging to Scott be restrained, after no opposition was offered, but set a further hearing for Habulin's matter later this month.
Despite not being present in court, due to Habulin's corresponding appearance in the Tauranga District Court, counsel Mary-Ann McCarty filed some "quite puzzling documents" which seemingly opposed the application, Justice Brewer said.
The court heard that McCarty had submitted that her client had "no interest" in the funds in the bank accounts, which were held under a different name.
All four men appeared in the Tauranga District Court today but had their case adjourned until December 18.
Scott and Habulin are now facing money laundering charges, as well as further cocaine charges.
Scott faced eight new charges, which included three joint charges involving almost $1.2 m worth of alleged money laundering transactions.
Habulin now faces a total of 17 charges, which includes three joint charges of money laundering involving the alleged laundering of almost $1.5m, some of which allegedly involved Scott.
Cavallo faces a further three charges, including conspiring with Habulin to import and export cocaine to and from New Zealand.
Northway now faces nine charges, including a new joint charge of supplying cocaine.
Two other people were also arrested last month in Auckland and charged with money laundering as investigations continued into the drug bust.
Following their arrests several items were seized by police after a raid in the Auckland suburb of Birkenhead.
These included a 2017 Honda Civic vehicle, a motorcycle, electronic equipment including phones and laptops, several thousand dollars in cash and a money counting machine.
Detective Superintendent Greg Williams, the national manager for the Organised Crime Group, said at the time the arrests were the result of a dedicated five-month long investigation.
He alleged that it "uncovered a sophisticated money laundering operation involving hundreds of thousands of dollars".
- additional reporting Sandra Conchie