Tax office targets bikie gang members in nationwide money laundering crackdown

The Australian Tax Office is targeting 200 outlaw motorcycle gang members as part of a nationwide crackdown on money laundering.

The tax office is coordinating with state and federal police officers in the hope of recovering debts of nearly $4 million.

Former NSW assistant police commissioner Clive Small said outlaw gangs were still active, but now boasted much lower profiles.

“They’re not wearing their designated names on their jackets and things of that nature and they are taking a lower profile,” Mr Small said.

Mr Small said the tax evasion crackdown took the profit out of crime and challenged the ability of gangs to make profits illegally.

“[It’s] critical and very important to have that strategy in place — it can make [gangs] more cautious, reduce their crime and perhaps even turn them into lawful activities,” he said.

He said increased coordination between state and federal counterparts was incredibly important in tackling organised crime.

“You have groups like outlaw motorcycle gangs which are predominantly committing state offences, but they are crossing the state borders and we need a Commonwealth coordination,” Mr Small said.

“They are still a major problem and they are still a major threat to us, and a lot of work has to be done to deal with them.”

Queensland’s crime laws were overhauled in November, banning motorcycle gang members from wearing their club colours in all public places, with most other states following suit.

Operation Morpheus, a taskforce aimed at disrupting outlaw gangs, prosecuted 35 people in 2015 and 2016 for failing to lodge tax returns, raising $55,000 in fines.

Mick Kosenko from the United Motorcycle Council of Queensland said wrongdoing should be punished but that little had come of the recent targeting of motorcycle gangs.

“They’ve already spent $500 million targeting us and I just hope it’s not another waste of taxpayers money,” Mr Kosenko said.

“They’ve spent so much money and no-one has been sent to jail. They haven’t really done anything so far.”

He said hundreds of bikies were still being targeted unfairly by authorities.

“I know firsthand hundreds of people who have done nothing wrong all their lives and then all of a sudden they have been made criminals by the Government,” Mr Kosenko said.

“It’s just wrong and it’s not just them who are suffering, it’s their wives their children.”

Photo: AAP