American charged over $5 million found in Sydney

An American man has been charged after 5.7 million Australian dollars ($5 million) in cash was found in suitcases in a Sydney apartment. Police allege it is one of the biggest cash hauls of crime proceeds in Australian history.

Australian Federal Police Commissioner Tony Negus said Thursday that a 58-year-old U.S. citizen had appeared in a Sydney court on Wednesday charged with dealing with the suspected proceeds of crime. The maximum penalty for the charge is three years in prison.

"This is one of Australia's largest cash seizures" of crime proceeds, Negus said.

The man, whom police have not named, arrived in Australia from Costa Rica two days before his arrest on Saturday at an apartment near Sydney airport, Negus said. Police found the Australian currency stuffed into seven suitcases in an apartment where the man was staying. The man denied the money was his, Negus said.

The seizure was revealed Thursday as part of a year-long investigation into money laundering in Australia.

The Australian Crime Commission-led task force has seized AU$580 million in drugs and assets in the past year, including AU$26 million in cash suspected to be proceeds of crime, the commission said in a statement.

The commission said the task force had disrupted 18 criminal groups and made 105 arrests.

The commission's acting chief executive Paul Jevtovic said the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration had helped the task force disrupt illicit international money flows.


This Jan. 18, 2014 photo released by Australian Federal Police, shows suitcases sitting open on a bed filled with thousands of dollars of Australian money seized during the police raids, in Australia. The Australian Crime Commission (ACC) on Thursday, Jan. 23, 2014, released results of its 12-month covert operation named Eligo, against serious organized crime specifically at money laundering networks. The task force managed to seize more than $580 million worth of drugs and assets last year. (AP Photo/Australia Federal Police)