Craig Thomson, the former Labor MP for Dobell, has been arrested after police alleged he was the primary organiser of a multi-million dollar migration fraud.
The former parliamentarian was arrested at his home in Terrigal on the central New South Wales coast after a long-running investigation which saw the Australian Federal Police search Thomson’s residence in Wamberal in July.
Police allege that Thomson facilitated more than 130 fraudulent visa applications over four years, including providing false materials or misleading information and making more than AU$2 million in profits.
The joint agency investigation into Thomson, led by the AFP and comprising the Australian Border Force (ABF), AUSTRAC, the Australian Taxation Office and the Department of Home Affairs, was triggered by an ABF investigation into allegations of significant visa and migration fraud, dating to August 2019.
If convicted, Thomson faces a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison.
Thomson served as a federal Labor MP from 2007 until 2012 and as an independent following his expulsion from the Labor party in 2013 when he was accused of stealing from his former employer, the Health Services Union in his previous role as the HSU’s national secretary. It was alleged he had misused the union’s money on prostitutes and fine dining.
He was later found guilty of the accusation in 2014 by a Victorian court and sentenced to three months in jail, with a further nine months suspended. However, he appealed the ruling and avoided imprisonment and was fined $25,000.
Craig Bellis, AFP Commander of Investigations, Eastern Command, said the charges laid in this matter involved a serious breach of public trust.
“The alleged offences in this matter involved the exploitation of Federal Government programs designed to assist Australian businesses, and it is incumbent on the AFP to investigate and prosecute instances of large-scale fraud against Australian taxpayers,” he said.
Erin Dale, ABF Assistant Commissioner East and Port Operations, said the ABF takes a zero-tolerance approach to anyone trying to profit through the exploitation of vulnerable foreign workers.
“This investigation demonstrates the unwavering resolve of the ABF and AFP in preventing the exploitation of foreign workers in Australia. ‘Cash for visa’ schemes as they are often known, target vulnerable visa holders who may not be aware of Australian laws and workplace entitlements”, she said.
“Together, the ABF and AFP will continue to pursue facilitators of visa and migration fraud, while protecting foreign workers who play a vital role within the Australian community.”