Go to top of page

International Assistance and Specialist Agencies

Deputy Director: James Carter

Top referring agencies:

  • Australian Financial Security Authority 20%
  • Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority 16%
  • Australian Federal Police 15%
  • State and territory police 13%
  • Australian Fisheries Management Authority 6%
  • Australian Maritime Safety Authority 6%

Referrals: 420

Matters on hand: 441

Matters Managed:

  • Administration of justice offences
  • Aged care
  • Aviation compliance
  • Bankruptcy
  • Building and construction industry
  • Census offences
  • Clean energy schemes
  • Crimes at sea
  • Criminal justice certificates and visas
  • Defence
  • Education and training compliance
  • Electoral offences
  • Environment
  • Extradition
  • Family day care fraud
  • Fisheries
  • Indigenous corporations
  • Industrial chemicals
  • Intellectual property
  • Marine safety
  • Measurement
  • Mutual assistance
  • Offences against Commonwealth officials or property
  • Radio‑communications
  • Royal Commission Act offences
  • Secrecy, browsing and unauthorised disclosure
  • Space activities
  • Sports integrity
  • Specific regulatory offences
  • Therapeutic goods
  • Tobacco advertising and plain packaging
  • Work, health and safety

Role

The International Assistance and Specialist Agencies (IASA) practice group is responsible for international assistance including extradition and mutual assistance and prosecuting matters referred by specialist agencies. Our partners refer diverse offences spanning a variety of complex legislative schemes.

Trends in 2019-20 prosecutions

IASA has experienced an increase in the complexity and size of briefs referred from a number of our agencies as they target key areas of enforcement concern. Our referrals are diverse and encompass a wide range of important specialist areas. We continue to work closely with over 40 partner agencies from the pre‑brief stage and throughout the prosecution process to prosecute in these significant areas.

This year, we have worked closely with our agencies as together we have faced the challenges posed by the COVID‑19 pandemic. This has had a very significant impact on the investigation andmprosecution of matters. It has been possible for matters to continue to be referred and brought before the courts utilising technology and new ways of working. Court appearances have been electronic to a significant extent using video‑link technology or by telephone. We have also worked closely with the courts and defence practitioners using documents in digital form.

IASA had carriage of one of the first jury trials to be held following the suspension of jury trials due to the pandemic, successfully working with the court and the defence to achieve this. Measures were taken to ensure social distancing and the narrowing of issues prior to the proceedings commencing, thereby reducing the number of witnesses that needed to be called and the duration of the trial.

Prosecution services

Much of IASA’s work is specialised and compliance focused. To ensure we respond effectively and efficiently to this diverse caseload, we use a Centralised Referral Model (CRM) for many matters. Referrals are assessed by prosecutors with specialist expertise and prosecuted in courts across Australia.

The practice group coordinates the CDPP’s proceeds of crime functions and Freedom of Information Act 1982 (Cth) work. It also has responsibility for prosecutions in the Jervis Bay Territory and Norfolk Island.

Jervis Bay Practice

Matters prosecuted are usually referred as a result of community policing and include driving offences, assault, family violence and theft.

Norfolk Island

The CDPP provides an independent prosecution service for Norfolk Island. Prosecutors rely on a combination of Commonwealth laws, continued Norfolk Island laws and applied New South Wales laws when prosecuting matters in this jurisdiction.

The practice is conducted from our Brisbane Office. In addition to regular travel to the Island for court appearances, our prosecutors often appear via videolink.

Two significant prosecutions were conducted in the Supreme Court of Norfolk Island during 2019–20:

  1. A matter listed for trial by jury was resolved prior to trial by way of a plea to a charge of recklessly inflicting grievous bodily harm. The defendant was sentenced to two years and eight months imprisonment, wholly suspended for an operational period of two years and eight months.
  2. Another matter involved sexual offending against three children. The defendant pleaded guilty to 31 offences and was sentenced to an effective term of imprisonment of 13 years and three months. The court ordered that the defendant must serve seven years and six months of that sentence in custody before being eligible for parole. Victim impact statements were read in court. This defendant also pleaded guilty to a further two offences, in relation to one of the complainants, in the Court of Petty Sessions.

The CDPP prosecuted a number of summary matters in the Court of Petty Sessions, covering a range of offending. Overall, 21 Norfolk Island matters were finalised before the courts during the reporting period.

Pre-brief engagement

The CDPP regards the provision of pre‑ brief advice to investigative agencies as a valuable practice that is in the interests of both the CDPP and our partners. The impact of the COVID‑19 pandemic saw an increase in agencies seeking pre‑brief assistance.

Partner workshops

During the reporting period we conducted workshops with the:

  • Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA), focusing on the challenges posed by drones, and
  • Australian Commission for Law Enforcement Integrity (ACLEI), including discussions on coercive examinations and the recovery of superannuation benefits for Commonwealth employees convicted of corruption offences.

These forums afforded opportunities to collaborate with our partners to effectively deter criminal conduct.

We are increasingly engaging in joint Commonwealth initiatives such as the:

  • Family Day Care (FDC) Payment Integrity Interdepartmental Committee (IDC) ‑ working closely with the Department of Education, Skills and Employment as part of the multi‑agency FDC Integrity Surge Initiative.
  • Integrity Agencies Group ‑ leading coordination, enhancement and promotion of institutional integrity across the Commonwealth.

Family day care

In collaboration with the Department of Education, Skills and Employment, the CDPP continues to prosecute family day care service operators, educators and parents who engage in fraud.

There are currently over 50 defendants before the courts in Victoria and New South Wales for alleged family day care related offending.

Work Health and Safety (WHS)

Our WHS practice continues to expand as we partner with Comcare and the National Offshore Petroleum Safety and Environmental Management Authority to address work health and safety compliance across the Commonwealth.

One contested matter was successfully conducted virtually during the COVID‑19 pandemic, with the calling of evidence and Counsel appearing via video‑link from our CDPP Melbourne Office to the Adelaide Magistrates Court.

Law reform

This year IASA worked closely with the Department of Home Affairs, Attorney‑ General’s Department (AGD), Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade and the Department of Health. We provided input and comment from a prosecution perspective on a number of legislative proposals, including those relating to a legislative framework for Australia to give effect to future bilateral and multilateral agreements for cross‑border access to electronic information and communications data.

International engagement

In September 2019, a representative from our International Assistance (IA) team attended an Expert Group Meeting convened by the Commonwealth Secretariat (ComSec) reviewing the Model Law on Electronic Evidence.

Participants shared information and knowledge around the latest developments in their countries, as well as challenges and good practice in the implementation of the laws governing digital evidence.

During the reporting period, we collaborated in capacity building initiatives with our partners in a number of areas, including the:

  • Attorney‑General’s Pacific Legal Policy Twinning Program.
  • AFP International Liaison Officers Pre‑ Embarkation Program.
  • Defence Domestic Maritime Security Operations Course (DMSOC).

IASA remains committed to supporting our stakeholders to develop expertise and will continue to seek opportunities to build capacity in our partner agencies as well as within the CDPP.

International Assistance

A dedicated team in IASA provides a vital service to prosecutors facilitating the obtaining of evidence from overseas.

Extradition and mutual assistance is crucial for the effective investigation and prosecution of serious offences such as terrorism, people smuggling, drug trafficking, sexual servitude, bribery of foreign officials, money laundering, and offences relating to child exploitation and abuse material.

The primary responsibility for international assistance rests with the AGD, Australia’s central authority for mutual assistance in criminal matters and extradition. The CDPP’s international assistance team plays a critical role in enabling requests to be made.

Mutual assistance underpins the international cooperation framework

Mutual assistance is a formal process countries use to assist each other to investigate and prosecute criminal offences and recover the proceeds of crime.

The IA team in IASA collaborates with prosecutors during the mutual assistance process to seek required foreign evidence material that meets Australia’s evidentiary needs and conforms to Australia’s admissibility requirements. The team also assesses the foreign material received, to ensure that the evidence is relevant and admissible in criminal proceedings.

Requests are often made in conjunction with Commonwealth investigative agencies or joint taskforces comprising law enforcement officers from Commonwealth, state and territory agencies.

In 2019–20 the IA team engaged with CDPP prosecutors and the Attorney‑ General’s Department (AGD) in the preparation of 52 outgoing requests by Australia to 22 foreign countries.

The formal mutual assistance regime runs parallel with the less formal system of international cooperation between investigating agencies, known as ‘agency‑ to‑agency’ assistance. Formal mutual assistance channels are most commonly used when the request for assistance involves the use of coercive powers, or when the material requested is required in a form that is admissible in criminal proceedings.

The mutual assistance regime rests on a network of international relations and obligations, together with the willingness of participating countries to assist each other. Australia has ratified 30 bilateral mutual assistance treaties and a number of multilateral conventions, which bind the signatories to provide mutual assistance to each other. Countries that are not signatories to mutual assistance treaties or conventions may also request assistance under the principle of reciprocity.

Extradition ensures criminals can’t evade justice by crossing borders

Extradition is a formal process where offenders outside the jurisdiction are returned to the country requesting extradition to be prosecuted or to serve a sentence of imprisonment.

The AGD has sole responsibility for international extradition for all countries, except New Zealand. The CDPP’s role in extradition proceedings is requesting extradition be sought in Commonwealth matters and the execution of incoming requests from New Zealand.

The IA team collaborates with CDPP prosecutors to formulate an effective extradition strategy, to meet country specific extradition requirements, and to prepare documentation in support of requests for extradition in serious cases where a person is wanted for prosecution for an offence against Commonwealth law or to serve a sentence of imprisonment.

Outgoing requests

During 2019–20, the CDPP made no requests to the AGD seeking extradition from foreign countries. The CDPP was involved in making one request to New Zealand.

Four people were surrendered to Australia during 2019–20 as a result of extradition requests made in previous years. A further 13 requests from previous years remain ongoing.

Incoming requests

Requests from New Zealand are made on a police‑to‑police basis and are referred to us by the AFP. The IA team provides extensive assistance to the AFP to give effect to these requests, including the preparation of documents essential to the extradition process.

The CDPP appears on behalf of New Zealand in extradition proceedings before a magistrate to determine whether a person will be surrendered, or in any review or appeal arising from those proceedings. In 2019–20, the CDPP appeared on behalf of New Zealand in relation to extradition proceedings for five people, which resulted in the surrender of four people to New Zealand.

Confiscation of criminal assets

Proceeds of Crime Act 2002

Following the establishment of the Criminal Assets Confiscation Taskforce in 2012, the AFP has primary responsibility for confiscation and recovery action under the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 (Cth) (POCA).

Under a Memorandum of Understanding signed in 2014, the CDPP has responsibility for conducting applications for:

  • a forfeiture order pursuant to section 48 of the POCA where no restraining order has been sought at the time the application is made
  • a pecuniary penalty order pursuant to section 116 of the POCA relating to a person’s conviction where no restraining order has been sought at the time the application is made.

Between 1 July 2019 and 30 June 2020, a total of $3,106,907 was recovered through CDPP actions under the POCA 2002.

Corruption offences and superannuation orders

Pursuant to the Crimes (Superannuation Benefits) Act 1989 (Cth), the CDPP is responsible for bringing applications seeking forfeiture of the employer‑funded component of superannuation payable to the Commonwealth. Under Part VA of the Australian Federal Police Act 1979 (Cth), the CDPP can seek forfeiture of the employer‑ funded component of superannuation funds of Australian Federal Police employees who have been convicted of corruption offences.

One superannuation order was made in 2019–20 pursuant to the Crimes (Superannuation Benefits) Act 1989 (Cth).

No forfeiture action was taken in relation to Part VA of the Australian Federal Police Act 1979 (Cth).

Freedom of information (FOI)

IASA is responsible for producing national FOI guidance, coordinating reporting responsibilities, and liaising with the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner (OAIC) to ensure the CDPP complies with our obligations pursuant to the Freedom of Information Act 1982 (Cth).

FOI requests

The CDPP received 45 FOI requests during the 2019–20 reporting period.

Due to the complexity of some of the requests, FOI officers spent approximately 101 days completing FOI related activities.