ON 12 FEBRUARY 2015, the High Court of Australia delivered Commissioner of the Australian Federal Police v Zhao  HCA 5 (12 February 2015).
The second respondent had been charged with aiding and abetting another to deal with property or money that was the proceeds of crime. The first respondent was the second respondent’s wife and the registered proprietor of certain property that was the subject of the criminal proceedings.
The Australian Federal Police Commissioner brought restraint and forfeiture proceedings against the respondents under the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 (Cth) in the Victorian Couny Court. The respondents brought proceedings to exclude certain properties from restraint and forfeiture. Subsequently, on an application by the respondents, the Victorian Court of Appeal ordered a stay of the forfeiture and exclusion proceedings until the completion of the criminal proceedings.
The High Court of Australia dismissed an appeal by the Commissioner against the stay. It held that the Court of Appeal was correct to allow the stay because the the interests of justice would not be served by the second respondent being made to defend the forfeiture proceedings or pursue the exclusion proceedings before the completion of the criminal proceedings given that the offences and circumstances are substantially identical and especially when the appellant will suffer no relevant prejudice from the delay.
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