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Money laundering: Hong Kong bust uncovers $371 mn tied to India scam

Hong Kong authorities arrest 7 in record money laundering case involving $1.8 bn

Money laundering: Hong Kong bust uncovers $371 mn tied to India scam

Hong Kong: At least seven persons were arrested by Hong Kong customs authorities on Friday in connection with the territory’s biggest money-laundering case involving a whopping HKD 14 billion ($1.8 billion) some of it was linked to a mobile app scam case in India.

The syndicate used “stooge” bank accounts and shell companies to transfer the largest amount linked to a single case recorded in the city, the Customs and Excise Department of Hong Kong said.

The operation was linked to a mobile app scam in India and two jewellery companies in the country, which allegedly handled about HKD2.9 billion ($371 million) of the funds, Suzette Ip Tung-ching, the head of customs’ financial investigation bureau told the media in Hong Kong. Ip described the amounts laundered as “astonishing” with one of the accounts receiving as much as HKD100 million ($12.8 million) a day and carrying out as many as 50 daily transactions.

Some of those arrested were non-Chinese residents of Hong Kong, she said without giving details. Law enforcement in Hong Kong, India, and elsewhere cooperated in carrying out the operation, enabling its success, Ip said.

She said the suspects were accused of laundering the cash through transactions involving gemstones and electronics, with the group, including a 34-year-old man, believed to be the mastermind, the Hong Kong-based South China Morning Post newspaper reported.

His wife, brother and father were also arrested, as well as three other Hong Kong residents accused of setting up a large number of shell companies and stooge bank accounts to trade electronics, gemstones and jewellery.

“These bank accounts were used for receiving multiple local and overseas transactions before conducting complicated and frequent trades with multiple layers of laundering,” Ip said.

According to police, stooge account holders are those who loan or sell their bank accounts to syndicates to collect scammed money and launder crime proceeds in exchange for hundreds or thousands of dollars.

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