A PERTH man has been charged after an investigation targeting suspected money laundering activity linked to residential brothels.
The investigation started after a tip from the ANZ bank and established links between WA brothels and an Asian criminal network.
It is alleged the criminal network uses sex workers from Thailand and China, with money earned from the brothels being laundered back to Asia.
During the investigation, in November last year detectives stopped a black Mercedes Benz on Pier Street, Perth.
Police say the driver had more than $95,000 cash with him, and $10,000 worth of store gift cards.
Search warrants were then executed at residential brothels, where it will be alleged further cash and other items of interest were located.
The search warrants were conducted with Australian Border Force personnel.
Ten sex workers who were identified as foreign nationals (Thai and Chinese), in Australia on visas, were referred to Australian Border Force for further assessment.
A 33-year-old man from City Beach has been charged with possession of stolen or unlawfully obtained property.
He appeared in the Perth Magistrates’ Court last month, and is next due to appear in the same court on January 9.
He has also been charged with 28 counts of property laundering in relation to the laundering of $198,666.00.
He is due to appear in the Perth Magistrates’ Court on January 16 over those charges.
Detective Sergeant Matt Edmunds from the Proceeds of Crime Squad said there will be ongoing investigations surrounding the organised crime element of residential brothels in WA.
“The involvement of established criminal networks in the operation of residential brothels causes great concern to police,” he said.
“Such involvement is known to lead to other serious crimes being committed, including money laundering.
“While there are women who make a conscious decision to become involved in the sex industry, there are also many cases where young and/or vulnerable women are coerced into being involved.
“(They can) find it difficult to stop being involved in the industry due to the controlling nature of those involved in running the operations, particularly for workers who are in Australia on temporary visas.
“WA Police Force works closely with Australian Border Force in relation to suspected breaches of the Migration Act, and where there is evidence of human trafficking elements the Australian Federal Police are advised.”