$14 billion laundering case detected

Apart from smashing a money laundering syndicate which had laundered about $14 billion through transnational trade activities, Customs has frozen about $165 million worth of assets under the names of those arrested in the case.

 

Customs made the announcement today and pointed out that this is the largest money laundering case it has shut down to date in terms of the amount of tainted money involved.

 

It explained that Customs officers had earlier identified a suspected money laundering syndicate and initiated a financial investigation.

 

During the probe, the officers discovered that the family-owned syndicate not only opened multiple companies and bank accounts in Hong Kong but also recruited locals through an intermediary to open shell companies and stooge accounts for dealing with about $14 billion of crime proceeds.

 

The investigation also revealed that some of the tainted money originated from the proceeds of mobile application scams in India. On a pretence of exporting jewellery and diamonds to India, the syndicate turned the fraudulent proceeds into payments of goods to transfer the illicit gains to local corporate bank accounts under its control.

 

Customs officers raided 11 premises across different districts in Hong Kong on January 30. Seven people, comprising four Chinese and three non-ethnic Chinese, aged between 23 and 74, were arrested on a money laundering offence under the Organised & Serious Crimes Ordinance.

 

Customs also cracked down on a money laundering operation centre at a commercial premises and seized a large quantity of suspected synthetic gemstones, a number of mobile phones, computers, company chops, cheque books, bank cards, bank documents and trading documents in the arrestees' residential and commercial premises.

 

The investigation is ongoing and the likelihood of further arrests has not been ruled out.

 

People may call 2545 6182, fill out an online form or send an email to the department to report suspected smuggling activities.


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