SCHAPELLE CORBY TO PROFIT FROM DRUG ACTIVITY?
It has been widely reported that Schapelle Corby will be paid between two and three million dollars for an exclusive interview with Channel Seven. This has outraged many in the community who hold the view that she should not be entitled to profit from her illegal activities. Similar complaints were made when David Hicks and Chopper Read published books. See this link for my public contribution to this debate.
Premier Newman has vowed to put an end to this profiteering from illegal activities and has sought advice on a confiscations application against Corby. Any action would not be straightforward; as this situation is quite different to the ‘run of the mill’ confiscation case where there is a clear nexus between a person’s Australian conviction for drug trafficking and their illegal acquisition of money from drug sales.
Queensland’s criminal confiscation scheme is governed by the Criminal Proceeds Confiscation Act 2002. Under this Act, an application for forfeiture of proceeds can be made for any illegal activity. Under section 15 of the Act, illegal actiivty is defined broadly and includes:
(a) a serious crime related activity; or
(b) an act or omission that is an offence against the law of
Queensland or the Commonwealth; or
(c) an act or omission committed outside Queensland
(i) is an offence against the law of the place in which
it is committed; and
(ii) would be an offence mentioned in paragraph (b) if
it were committed in Queensland.
Schapelle’s conviction for drug importation in Indonesia would be strong evidence of her engaging in illegal activity. However, it woud not be conclusive and there is, in my view, the potential for the re-litigation of the allegations against her; for which she denies. The case would be complex and lengthy in duration. There would be admissibility issues and difficulties for prosecutors in obtaining all necessary evidence from Indonesian authorities. The location of the proceeds, said to be paid to Corby, would be important. The State would need to apply to restrain (freeze) these as soon as possible. These practical challenges, in a case like this, were evident in Hicks’ case where ultimately the prosecution discontinued in the NSW Supreme Court, the confiscations application against Hicks.