Money laundering

22 January 2021.

Hong Kong police on 20 January 2021 said they arrested five men and two women, who were working as customer service managers at various banks, at the time of the offence. Some had already left the bank at the time of the arrest. They are accused of helping set up 14 accounts to launder money amounting to $813 million and receiving payments in exchange for helping 16 mainland Chinese and foreign criminals to open up accounts at a series of local banks. The police suspect that as much as half a billion dollars could have been laundered by this syndicate. They expect to make more arrests in the future. The police believe that they have successfully dismantled this crime syndicate. This is said to be the biggest bust in a decade.

The police did not release the names of those arrested because the investigations are still on-going. The suspects have not been charged yet but are under custody for further investigations.

Monies were transferred from different parts of the world including Italy, Vietnam and Germany. The police found out that the syndicate had sent 16 people, consisting of Belgians and mainland Chinese, to Hong Kong to open the business accounts at two banks using forged documents and fake Hong Kong identity cards.

The seven arrested used their knowledge of banking operations and customer vetting procedures to help the syndicate in laundering the money. They were fully aware of what they were doing because they received handsome bribe.

The police also seized a number of computers, mobile phones, bank records and company documents, along with over a million dollars in cash at a public housing unit where one of the arrested suspects lived.

The commercial crime bureau started investigations in 2017 while handling an email scam involving the London office of a Swiss company that was duped into transferring US$2 million into bank accounts in Hong Kong. This led the police to the crime syndicate.

Source: SCMP, Business Times and OCCRP.