AFP freezes 50 bank accounts over early super access fraud fears

The Australian Federal Police (AFP) has frozen more than 50 banks accounts suspected of defrauding the Government’s early access to superannuation program introduced in response to the COVID-19 crisis.

Jul 02, 2020, updated Jul 02, 2020
Treasurer Josh Frydenberg. (Photo: Lukas Coch/AAP PHOTOS)

Treasurer Josh Frydenberg. (Photo: Lukas Coch/AAP PHOTOS)

Based on intelligence gathered by authorities they believe criminal syndicates — including some based overseas — are behind the fraudulent activity.

A spokesperson for the AFP said criminals were also targeting the JobSeeker and JobKeeper schemes.

“About $200,000 has been restrained in those onshore bank accounts,” the spokesperson said.

“The AFP has a dedicated operation targeting the fraud and is advanced in its investigation.

“The AFP under Commissioner Reece Kershaw is putting a blowtorch to serious organised crime.”

It comes after Kershaw confirmed to a Senate inquiry into the Government’s response to COVID-19 in May that the AFP was looking into fraud allegations, which the Australian Taxation Office first became aware of at the end of April.

At the time he said five search warrants have been executed and several accounts had been frozen as investigations continued.

The Federal Treasurer Josh Frydenberg would not comment specifically on the investigations but told Sky News those caught defrauding the system will be prosecuted.

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“We are working to ensure where there is fraud it is uncovered, and those people face the full force of the law.”

Frydenberg said the Government was taking the matter “very seriously”.

“Organised crime is a problem for both the private and public sectors … particularly when you’ve got a program of this scale and size, I mean Jobkeeper is the single largest one-off government program in Australian history,” he said.

“We have established a serious financial-crimes task force that brings together the Australia Federal Police, the ATO, the Department of Homes Affairs and others.

“We have also put in a number of integrity measures to ensure payments are not going to not going compromised accounts, and there are risk-based random audits.”

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