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Will Schapelle profit?

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Any money Schapelle Corby is paid for interviews, book deals or lucrative movie offers about her time in Bali’s Kerobokan prison could be snaffled by the Federal Government, says a barrister who specialises in proceeds of crime and confiscation cases.

After being sentenced to 20 years’ jail for drug trafficking in May 2005, Ms Corby will be the subject of intense media interest when she is finally released.

Indonesia’s justice minister, Amir Syamsuddin, is set to hold a press conference in Jakarta at 6:30pm (AEDT), where it seems likely that he will make announcement about Ms Corby’s release.

“There is the possibility that the Commissioner of the Australian Federal Police will seek a literary proceeds order against her,” barrister Christian Juebner said. He added that such an order is likely.

Foreign Minister Julie Bishop says the government doesn’t think Corby should be allowed to profit from her story.

“As a principle, the Australian Government believes that people should not profit from crime, but this is a matter ultimately for the AFP and the DPP.”

Ms Corby has already forfeited $128,800 to the Commonwealth of at least $410,000 in profits from her book My Story and a magazine article published in New Idea, which confirms that her conviction in Bali is relevant to the Proceeds of Crime Act.

If an order is successful after Ms Corby’s release from Kerobokan, the Government is unlikely to receive all the proceeds due to complex formulas in the Act which would take into account her need to support herself.

Mr Juebner said the AFP has recruited “very aggressively” in recent time.

“They have basically quadrupled their team after they took over from the Commonwealth DPP, it’s quite likely that they would try and [confiscate any money Corby earned],” said Mr Juebner.

Australian Federal Police Commissioner Tony Negus would have the discretion to make such an application to the courts under the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002.

But how can Australian authorities get their hands on money that could be held in an Indonesian banks account?

As the law stands, it would not matter that Ms Corby was convicted of an offence under Indonesian law. The court may still find that her smuggling of 4.1 kilograms of marijuana in her bodyboard bag into Denpasar airport in 2004 was an offence against Australia’s drug laws.

“It’s not necessary that she be convicted [under Australian law] to make that application,” said Mr Juebner.

Mr Juebner said that importing cannabis from Australia to Bali “would definitely contravene an Australian law, and therefore there could be a finding that she committed an indictable offence, even though she doesn’t have to be proven guilty and charged”.

But a possible snag for the federal police might be if Ms Corby earned and received the profits, such as publishing books or giving interviews, while still living in Indonesia.

The law requires that the proceeds of crime be derived in or transferred to Australia. Thus, if Ms Corby stayed overseas, she might get to keep the money.

Mr Juebner said the federal police would have “some years” to make such an application, if she returned to Australia at a later date.