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Wednesday, Jul 24, 2024

Customs takes down HK$3.5b money-laundering syndicate

Eight people were arrested as customs smashed a crime ring that used more than 100 company bank accounts to launder over HK$3.5 billion in crime proceeds between May 2021 and October last year.
After an intelligence-led financial investigation, customs targeted five people, including a married couple, and revealed they set up over 100 stooge company bank accounts that claimed to be conducting trade and business in electronic parts.

The five were found to have dealt with nearly 2,000 suspicious transactions involving about HK$2.9 billion between May 2021 and October last year.

Their background and financial status didn’t match the suspicious large-value transactions in their bank accounts. Officers then raided four residential premises and four companies on April 26 and arrested three men and two women aged 36 to 68 for money laundering.

A follow-up investigation also revealed that one of the arrested men was a core member of the money laundering syndicate. Apart from his wife, he was also found to have recruited three other men to set up local companies and open bank accounts to handle about HK$600 million in crime proceeds.

A second operation by customs saw officers raid three residential premises and three companies and arrest a man and two women aged 24 to 37, also for money laundering.

Customs found about one-third of the crime proceeds valued at about HK$1.3 billion were wired into the stooge company bank accounts from cryptocurrency trading firms, leading officers to believe that the arrestees were trying to hide the source of the money in cryptocurrency.

So far, customs have frozen a bank balance of about HK$2.7 million held by the crime ring.

During the operations, officers also seized several mobile phones, company documents, company chops, bank account statements, checkbooks, and bank cards.

The eight arrestees have been released on bail pending further investigation. The investigation is ongoing, and customs may make more arrests.
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