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Joint Victoria Police illicit goods importation investigation finds integrity vulnerabilities

The Integrity Commissioner and head of the Australian Commission for Law Enforcement Integrity (ACLEI), Jaala Hinchcliffe, has today published her report on Operation Turner.

Operation Turner investigated whether an entity had access to a corrupt Commonwealth law enforcement staff member to assist with importations of illicit tobacco.

The Operation resulted in the resolution of an ABF tobacco importation investigation with the seizure of illicit tobacco. Operation Turner was a joint investigation between ACLEI, Victoria Police, the Department of Home Affairs, and the Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment (DAWE).

The investigation was conducted jointly with a Victoria Police investigation, which targeted a known criminal entity (Mr S) suspected of being involved in illicit tobacco importation.

Mr S’s extensive criminal history for a range of different offences have resulted in him serving several prior terms of imprisonment. He also had connections to Outlaw Motorcycle gangs.

As part of the investigation, a number of Commonwealth law enforcement officers were investigated to determine whether they could have been providing information to the criminal syndicate.

No evidence of corrupt conduct was found in relation to any Commonwealth law enforcement officer.

Although no corrupt conduct was identified through Operation Turner, the investigation contributed to the successful resolution of a significant Victoria Police investigation, and the resolution of an Australian Border Force tobacco importation investigation.

The Integrity Commissioner noted the importance of investigating all corruption allegations to identify and deal with corrupt conduct, and to provide assurance that the alleged corrupt conduct has not occurred.

“ACLEI will continue working closely with Home Affairs and DAWE to prevent corruption and strengthen the integrity of the biosecurity inspection processes and frameworks, and licencing regimes.

“In response to this report, Home Affairs and DAWE provided information on a number of initiatives that have been implemented or are being considered to address the issues raised in this report.”

About the Australian Commission for Law Enforcement Integrity (ACLEI)

ACLEI is committed to preventing and investigating corruption issues relating to Commonwealth law enforcement agencies. ACLEI supports the Integrity Commissioner to provide independent assurance to government about the integrity of prescribed law enforcement agencies and their staff members. The office of the Integrity Commissioner and ACLEI are established by the Law Enforcement Integrity Commissioner Act 2006.

Please direct all enquiries regarding this media release to media@aclei.gov.au.

Media release - Operation Turner operation_turner_10_november_2021 (1).pdf (51.08 KB)