31 August 2017

DPP confiscates properties worth more than $3 million in first contested unexplained wealth case

In Victoria’s first contested unexplained wealth case the Director of Public Prosecutions John Champion S.C. has been successful in confiscating five properties worth more than $3 million from the family of a convicted drug trafficker.

Nam Son Nguyen was convicted in the Criminal Division of the County Court on 23 September 2015 of one charge of cultivating cannabis, two charges of theft and one charge of trafficking in a drug of dependence.

Nguyen was sentenced to three-and-a-half years’ imprisonment, with a non-parole period of two-and-a-half years. He was unsuccessful in appealing his sentence to the Court of Appeal.

In October 2015, the Office of Public Prosecutions’ Proceeds of Crime unit successfully obtained an unexplained wealth restraining order on behalf of the DPP over four residential properties and one commercial property registered under the names of two of Nguyen’s family members.

Unexplained wealth provisions in the Confiscation Act 1997 allow the DPP to apply to restrain property based on a police officer’s suspicion that the property owner is engaged in serious criminal activity or that a person has acquired their property unlawfully.

Nguyen’s family launched legal proceedings in the Civil Jurisdiction of the County Court by way of seeking an order to exclude their properties from the unexplained wealth restraining order. This was opposed by the DPP and the matter was heard as a civil trial before a County Court Judge.

The Court yesterday dismissed the family members’ exclusion applications on the basis that it was not satisfied any of the five properties were lawfully acquired.

Mr Champion said this was a fantastic outcome for Victorian law enforcement agencies and the Victorian Asset Confiscation Scheme.

“The object of the unexplained wealth laws is to undermine the profitability of serious criminal activity,” he said.

Proceeds of Crime Manager Damian Martin said his unit was able to obtain the unexplained wealth restraining order following a thorough financial investigation by the Victoria Police Criminal Proceeds Squad.

Proceeds of Crime is a specialist civil litigation unit that undertakes major litigation on behalf of the DPP. In 2016/17, Proceeds of Crime obtained 132 restraining orders over about $100 million in assets.

For further information contact:

Anthony Loncaric

03 9603 2603