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SA Attorney General John Rau wants ban on Mongols bikie group from entering Australia

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NIGEL HUNT
THE ADVERTISER
OCTOBER 09, 2013 11:33PM

THE State’s top-law officer wants all international members of the Mongols bikie gang banned from entering Australia.

Attorney-General John Rau has formally asked the Federal Government to consider the move amid fears by police the US-based gang’s takeover of the Finks will lead to an increase in bikie-related crime and violence in Australia.

Mr Rau will raise the ban with his State counterparts and Federal Attorney-General George Brandis, QC, at today’s Standing Council of Law and Justice meeting in Sydney.

He also will raise measures to assist SA police in the confiscation of unexplained wealth from bikie gang members and other organised crime figures.

He said there were real fears the Mongols takeover of the Finks, which was now being closely examined by the Australian Crime Commission, would lead to Australia’s bikie problem escalating.

The takeover is expected to see the majority of SA’s 56-strong Finks gang patch-over to the Mongols. Several senior Finks members were sighted by police at the weekend sporting Mongols T-shirts.

Police believe the strongest motive for the takeover is to boost the strength of the gang, giving it more influence against the rival Hells Angels gang and crucially, more resources to fight imminent Supreme Court moves to have them declared a criminal organisation.

“I would regard very seriously the idea of Finks going from a domestic outfit to one with official international connections like the Hells Angels,” Mr Rau said.

“I believe this to be a serious matter for all Attorneys-General and I am interested in exploring if there are ways the Commonwealth can, through immigration laws, assist the states and territories in their efforts to deal with this matter.

“This is an immigration control measure that we cannot deal with. We should have border control that prevents these characters getting into the country.”

Mr Rau said it would be a matter of US law enforcement bodies, such as the FBI and ATF, informing Australian immigration officials of the identities of the US gang members and then placing passport alerts on them and refusing them entry visas. He did not believe such a move would requite the introduction of any specific legislation.

Today’s meeting is expected to discuss Commonwealth plans for national unexplained wealth legislation to combat gang members, but this is not supported by SA and Queensland.

Mr Rau said he would prefer to see SA’s unexplained wealth legislation tested in the courts before considering any national legislation, but SA police were encountering problems with banks not providing electronic data on targets of unexplained wealth investigations.

Major banks – including the ANZ, Commonwealth and Westpac – have advised police they cannot provide the electronic data, particularly for bank accounts that have been closed. ING has refused to provide the data after seeking legal advice.

“I find that incomprehensible. I have asked that the Federal Government use its influence with the banks, that are a federal regulatory matter, to get them to be a bit more cooperative in the provision of information,” Mr Rau said.

He said if there was a proposal put forward for an unexplained wealth recovery process at a national level then “clearly I would be interested in hearing exactly what that proposal is”.

“I certainly would not slam the door on it and say not interested in talking, but the details would be very, very important,” he said.

Mr Rau said he would prefer to see the SA legislation, which was recently amended to remove a legal impediment concerning evidence collection, used with assistance from the federal government.

“If they just agreed to help us with accessing banking records that would give me and probably other states an opportunity to use our existing legislation,” he said.

“Given that the states have all got their own legislation, the immediate, easy way to move to a better place would be for the Commonwealth to cooperate more to enable us to use the laws we already have.

“I would like to see that tried first. If that fails, then it might be we need to look at a national scheme with commonwealth leadership.”

Mr Rau also plans to raise the issue of improving methods of fine defaulters and fugitives at the meeting – principally seeking full access to Centrelink records in order to help police locate both.

“Greater access to records such as employer and bank account details held by Commonwealth agencies, including the Australian Taxation office and Centrelink, which is information ordinarily unavailable to state agencies, would assist,” he said.

He also plans to ask the Federal Government to stop those with outstanding fines from leaving Australia until their debt is paid – a practice that is successfully used in New Zealand.

Fine defaulters now owe the State Government $287 million in unpaid fines and penalties, with the largest debtor owing $171,000.

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