Three arrested for laundering HK$1.8 billion from cryptocurrency platforms to shell companies over two years

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18th April 2024 – (Hong Kong) The Hong Kong Customs and Excise Department has unearthed a sophisticated money laundering operation involving over HK$1.8 billion. This extensive scheme was orchestrated through shell companies and cryptocurrency exchanges, leading to the arrest of three individuals, thus highlighting the growing complexity and scale of financial crimes in the region.

The operation, was the culmination of a meticulous investigation that traced the laundering activities over the past two years. The suspects, two men and a woman aged between 42 and 60, had reportedly created five companies and opened 18 corporate bank accounts, ostensibly to trade in diverse commodities ranging from mobile phone accessories to automotive parts. However, these companies had no real business operations as evidenced by their lack of tax filings, import-export records, or legitimate business addresses.

The suspects’ modus operandi involved receiving large sums of money from a cryptocurrency trading platform, which accounted for about 40% of the total laundered amount, reaching approximately HK$7.6 billion. These funds were then layered through numerous transactions intended to obscure their origins. In one striking instance, a single account recorded a daily transaction volume of HK$39 million, with up to 167 transactions in a single day.

The funds were further dispersed across over 200 local and overseas companies, adding layers of complexity to the financial trail. The primary suspect, a woman, allegedly played a key role at the upper echelon of this laundering pyramid, directly receiving and disbursing large sums through licensed money changers or transferring them to accounts owned by her male accomplices.