The Case of Max Study Millions: Mistake Or Money Laundering?

A Brazilian native and now-Australian citizen transferred nearly $1M through casinos and banks. The cash was rubber-banded and hidden, and the man funneled it through banks and casinos. He knew the money was probably “from the wrong stuff” but did it anyway. In some situations, that is called money laundering. But in this case, an Australian court found that it was a bad decision that deserved a minimal punishment…for money laundering.

Not Your Average Money Launderer

Andre Giminez Barbosa is not the average money launderer, it seems. The Brazilian-born man hails from Sao Paulo. The 36-year-old man is now an Australian citizen. He loves soccer. He has two young children with a woman from the Czech Republic. They met in Australia, but he intends to go to live with her and his children.

Barbosa owns a company called Max Study. He and his employees were educational consultants. The offices are in Brisbane City. Reportedly, the company – at one time – had 27 employees. Revenue – at one time – totaled approximately $5M per year.

The goal of Max Study was to help students who want to study in Brisbane. Knowing that an international transfer presents a unique set of difficulties, he wanted to help students find the right school and courses. He helped them develop study plans and enroll in schools. He also helped with the sometimes-complicated student visa application process.

Acts Like a Money Launderer

According to court documents per the Brisbane Times, Barbosa brought bundles of cash into Queensland and New South Wales. He carried them in disguised boxes, but the cash was wrapped in rubber bands. It probably looked how most people would think bundles of cash look.

Barbosa took some of that cash to The Star Casino in Sydney, The Star GoldCoast, and Treasury Casino in Brisbane. He made large deposits – more than $914K – into those accounts from 7 August to 22 November 2018. Those large deposits triggered a second look by the Australian Federal Police. They also discovered that Barbosa travelled to New Zealand 14 times during the same general period. He deposited $90K at SkyCity Casino in Auckland. But the laundering part came in when he transferred more than $720K back into his Australian accounts.

Various people, supposedly unknown to Barbosa, often deposited money into his bank accounts in Australia and Brazil. Sometimes, they gave the money to him in person. Some people transferred money via Hawala transfers in the name of Max Study fees. But those fees added up to $100K at times and came from unknown persons.

To message with his cohorts, he used instant messaging apps but used false names. And he then deleted messages one minute after sending.

Talks Like a Money Launderer

Court documents showed that he remained a willing participant in the process despite not knowing – or claiming to not know – the people behind the money.

During the investigation, he told the Australian Federal Police that he had “suspicions always that it cannot be good money.” He knew it was probably “from the wrong stuff.” And he admitted that he probably should have asked more questions.

The actions and statements from Barbosa led to a search warrant on his property. Subsequently, they arrested him on 11 December 2018. In court earlier this month, he pleaded guilty to just one count of dealing in proceeds of crime worth at least $1M.

Sentenced for a Mistake

Judge Helen Bowskill heard the case in the Brisbane Supreme Court. Barbosa faced up to 25 years in prison for the singular charge to which he plead guilty. However, Bowskill sentenced him to six years in prison, though he will be eligible for parole after just one year.

Barbosa said he will leave Australia after he fulfills his sentence. He plans to move to the Czech Republic to be with his children and their mother.

The judge explained the sentence as light because Barbosa had no other criminal history. She also noted that he had good character – other than the money laundering – and cooperated with detectives when caught. She also felt that he was and is a good candidate for rehabilitation.

What is Money Laundering?

The articles about Barbosa, his crimes and sentencing do not refer to money laundering. The gist of the coverage of the case and, indeed, the judge’s ruling, is that Barbosa made a mistake.

According to the Criminal Code Act 1995 and law enforcement authorities, money laundering is defined as the concealment of the true source of money. A person launders money when dealing with money believed to be the result of crime or criminal activities.

It appears, though, that a person who doesn’t fit the profile of a traditional money launderer faces charges and a sentence much less severe than others. In addition, the court can give that person the benefit of any doubt and excuse his or her actions as mistakes rather than intentional crimes.


Rose Varrelli avatar
Rose Varrelli
Senior Casino & News Writer

Hi there! I’m Rose, and with nine years behind me in the iGaming industry, I craft engaging narratives at CasinoAus. My education in Communication across Europe has sharpened my skills in fintech, casino legislation, and digital marketing. Backed by a strong foundation in SEO, storytelling, and cross-cultural communication, I’m passionate about creating content that resonates globally and educates our audience.

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