Witness found guilty of contempt of the ACIC in the Federal Court of Australia

On 3 December 2020, CRA20 (Court appointed pseudonym) was found guilty of contempt of the Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission (ACIC) in the Federal Court of Australia as he refused to answer fourteen questions which an Examiner required him to answer.

Through Project Windwhistle, the ACIC has been investigating persons involved in serious criminal activities relating to the manufacture, distribution and supply of methylamphetamine (ice) from a major drug lab in regional NSW.

The witness was summonsed in January 2020 and failed to answer questions asked by the ACIC Examiner. He was found guilty of contempt of the ACIC and has been sentenced to an eight-month term of imprisonment.

Chief Executive Officer of the ACIC Michael Phelan said “the ACIC takes contempt of its powers seriously and we will not hesitate to seek prosecution of persons summonsed under the Australian Crime Commission Act 2002 (Cth) who fail to answer questions or provide misleading or false evidence.”

“The ACIC targets the highest levels of transnational serious and organised crime threats facing Australia, including serious drug crime which continues to have a devastating impact on the Australian community,” Mr Phelan said.

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

The ACIC uses coercive powers to facilitate the collection of information and intelligence that is not available through other collection methods. When it is lawful to do so, the agency shares with partners the intelligence products containing discoveries and any understanding gained.

“This unique ACIC capability helps to achieve the vision of an Australia hostile to criminal exploitation. With the support of the government, we are committed to enhancing our coercive powers capability and will shortly be advertising for an additional three examiners” Mr Phelan said.