Media statement: Witness found guilty of contempt of the ACIC

The Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission (ACIC) targets the highest levels of serious and organised crime threats facing Australia, including the illicit drugs market which has a devastating impact on the Australian community.

Australian organised crime groups may fascinate, but they should strike fear into ordinary Australians. Because of their trademark secrecy, little is known publicly about their ugly underworld workings.

In light of the success of Operation Ironside, led by the Australian Federal Police with national and international partner agencies, I want to continue to make it hard for the people involved in serious and organised crime to do their business in Australia, and use all the powers we have at our lawful disposal to disrupt their activities.

The ACIC has been granted extraordinary powers which permit our Examiners to compel witnesses to answer questions and produce documents or things in relation to the ACIC’s special investigations and operations.

Failure to comply with those obligations is very serious. Parliament has given ACIC Examiners the power to bring charges for contempt of the ACIC to have a person comply with their obligations. If a Court finds that the individual has committed such a contempt, it may impose penalties including indeterminate terms of imprisonment.

An individual, who recently refused to answer 6 questions at an ACIC examination when required to do so by the Examiner, has been imprisoned indefinitely.

It is open to EVA20 to purge their contempt at any time if they chose to answer the questions of the Examiner.

The ACIC takes such contempt of the Examiner’s powers very seriously and will not hesitate to assist an Examiner in enforcing a witness’ obligations, when the witness who is summonsed under the Australian Crime Commission Act 2002 (Cth), fails to meet their legal obligations, including by refusing to answer questions or providing misleading or false evidence.

Here at the ACIC we are using all the tools at our disposal, including our coercive powers, to deliver disruption outcomes and quality intelligence insights.

The use of our agency’s coercive powers has been effective in collecting information and intelligence to examine structures and links fundamental to organised criminal activity.

This has helped us identify and take action against a range of criminal enterprises, which have proved highly resilient to traditional law enforcement methods.

This unique ACIC capability helps to achieve our vision of an Australia which is hostile to criminal exploitation. With the support of the Australian Government, we are committed to enhancing our coercive powers capability as demonstrated by the appointment of new additional Examiners this year.

Michael Phelan APM
Chief Executive Officer
Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission