Hong Kong authorities clamp down on triad activity, arresting 130 and uncovering money laundering scheme

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3rd December 2023 – (Hong Kong) Hong Kong law enforcement agencies have launched a significant offensive against triad activities in the districts of Sheung Shui and Fanling, following a series of high-profile street crimes over the past months. The operation, led to the arrest of 130 individuals, including 103 locals and 27 who entered Hong Kong on two-way permits. The arrests were part of a broader strategy to dismantle an active criminal gang operating in the Sheung Shui area.

From 2nd November to 2nd December, the authorities detained 64 men and 66 women, ranging in age from 20 to 75. Amongst those arrested, 21 individuals were known members of the aforementioned criminal gang, suspected of offences including “running illegal gambling establishments”, “gambling in illegal venues” and “money laundering”. Law enforcement also seized cash, various illegal venue equipment, bank cards, and suspected proceeds of crime, amounting to a total value of HK$2.5 million.

The enforcement action was high-profile, supplemented by a financial investigation. Between the 2nd and 27th November, law enforcement busted an illegal oil station and five betting stalls in Ta Kwu Ling and Sheung Shui, arresting 122 people and seizing evidence worth about HK$1 million. It’s believed that the clients of these betting stalls were introduced through a network of friends.

In the financial investigation, authorities arrested five men and three women, aged between 35 and 47, over two days starting from 1st December. Among them, four individuals are suspected to be core members of the criminal underworld, including a 47-year-old man believed to be the mastermind. The suspects were thought to have laundered over HKD 15 million in ill-gotten gains through some 600 large transactions between 2016 and 2023, using two physical companies and four shell companies with no actual operating addresses.

The eight individuals, claiming to be businessmen, bar owners, beauty salon owners, transport workers, and renovation workers, were found with evidence related to the case, including company documents, bank cards, multiple mobile phones, and a luxury sports car worth HK$1.47 million registered in the name of the company. Unusual large transactions were found in the bank accounts of the suspected mastermind and the companies opened by the other suspects, inconsistent with their reported financial statuses.

Through funds flow analysis and in-depth investigation, it was found that the alleged mastermind, who claimed to be a beauty salon owner, had companies dealing in logistics, land brokerage, consultancy, and wholesale of fruits and vegetables, which were incongruous with their professions. The addresses registered for these companies were in fact bars and a secretarial firm, classic tactics in money laundering operations.

Authorities believe that the unaccounted funds in the implicated accounts likely originated from illegal betting stalls, and were whitewashed through frequent transactions to evade law enforcement tracking. The eight arrested individuals have been released on bail pending further investigation. Law enforcement will continue to probe their backgrounds, sources of funds, and fund flows, and based on the investigation outcomes, may apply to the court to confiscate these criminal proceeds or identifiable assets.