Quango's to catch top crooks
Specialist task forces dedicated to detecting drug rings, money launderers, corporate fraudsters and other top-level crooks will be working within months under a new agency to tackle organised crime.
Wednesday, 02 April 2008 Stuff.co.nz
Police Minister Annette King is expected to reveal today details of the new group, which will bring together expertise from the Serious Fraud Office (SFO), gang, drug and cyber crime units and other specialist squads from police and other agencies. The group, first announced in September, will be called the Organised and Financial Crime Agency and will be operating by July, subject to having legislation in place by then.(Hon Annette King was previously a Minister of Health under whose warrant drug policy is enforced. / Blair)
The SFO will be disestablished but its ability to demand that documents and potential evidence be produced will be transferred to the new agency and relate to all the crime areas it covers.This could, for example, allow drug investigators to demand the production and examination of evidence from gangs in the same way the SFO can access documents and other material from companies. (the required standard of documentation for legal entities is very high. Gang documentation standards wouldn't allow them to clean the toilets at the stock exchange... who are we kidding here? Blair)
The transfer of these powers will be tempered by a new requirement for a court order - judicial oversight the SFO does not have at present. (thats a good thing, but wouldn't even be required if we detached gangs from drugs /Blair) It is understood the SFO's ability to override the right to silence will also be scrapped.
The agency will be based in Wellington and headed by Police Commissioner Howard Broad, who will identify which criminal areas and kingpins will be given priority. (The same Police that are living a public relations nightmare?)
It is expected to be organised into different task forces to gather intelligence and conduct surveillance in different areas, focusing on top-end organised criminals. (er: drug dealers? pornographers? and other moral and largely consensual 'where is the victim' crimes? )
Though Mr Broad will determine final staff levels and priority areas, when plans for the agency were revealed, the most likely targets were identified as drug, extortion, money laundering, cyber-crime and paedophile rings. (thought so!)
It is understood there will be a dedicated serious fraud task force to ensure the SFO's work is not sidelined when it is disestablished.
Though staff from the office will be transferred to the agency, the scope of their work may broaden as the line between financial and other crime becomes increasingly blurred.
The need for organised crime groups to launder cash, and the rapid rise of trans-national crime lead to the movement of vast sums across borders, and the agency is expected to work closely with international authorities.
The early identification and monitoring of international organised crime groups moving into New Zealand or the Pacific will be key. (laundering and border issues are admission that 'drugs' are the fungible commodity in common with prevelence of these activities. Monitoring and Enforcement are better managed within a legal and thus regulated framework. /Blair)
The agency will also cooperate with the Security Intelligence Service and the top-secret Government Communications Security Bureau. (not to mention absolute transparency policy and 'real time connectedness' that these agency's bring to our own 'databases'... have we no sovereignty! Is this the logical 'Echelon' via the backdoor - which goes to show those who give up privacy in exchange for security deserve neither)
Today's announcement is due to include details of an organised crime strategy, which is likely to focus on areas including intelligence gathering, enforcement and prevention. (Smells like the three drug 'pillars' to me... Those who control the dialog control the outcome. )
[ In response to a phone call on this item, I reiterate, the difference from the SFO to the new entity is singularily the mobilisation on 'drug policy'... and answer to the question, does this mean the Security Intelligence Service and the top-secret Government Communications Security Bureau will present to the LAW COMMISSION's yet to commence REVIEW ON DRUGS?, will be now obvious. ]