18 nabbed for money laundering
The Hong Kong police has arrested 18 people for allegedly “handling property known or believed to represent the proceeds of an indictable offence” (commonly known as “money laundering”) and conspiracy to “launder money” on 9 January. Based on a tip-off and after thorough investigation, officers of the Police’s Wealth Intelligence and Investigation Division (FIU) launched a “JUSTICENET” operation.
From the police brief report issued on 10 January, two non-Chinese men and 16 non-Chinese women, aged 29-49, were arrested in various districts of Hong Kong.
The police identified the 16 women are from Indonesia, 13 of them are holding HK ID, and the three Indonesian women are holding Form 8.
The two men – one from Bangladesh and the other man from Nigeria- both are holding Form 8.
Form 8 is a document held by a person under recognizance or with a case against Immigration Department rules.
The arrests were made in connection with a conspiracy to commit money laundering.
Preliminary investigation revealed that the suspects allegedly used social networking platforms and the social circles of their Foreign Domestic Helpers (FDHs) to lure various individuals into opening bank accounts with monetary inducements.
They also reportedly used social media to obtain their online bank account information, bank cards and related passwords, and used at least 33 related dummy bank accounts to launder proceeds of crime from 29 investment frauds and “online romance” frauds, email frauds and investment frauds, with a total loss of approximately $11 Million.
During the operation, officers seized a number of bank cards, mobile phones and other evidence.
The two men and three women are being held for investigation while the 13 women have been released on bail pending investigation and are required to report to police in mid-April.
The case is still under investigation and the police do not rule out more arrests.
Police said that the money laundering syndicate laundered over $35 million in suspected proceeds of crime from May 2012 to October 2002.
The police reiterated that “money laundering” is a serious crime and that people should not open bank accounts or lend them to others for illegal purposes.
Under Hong Kong law, anyone who handles property knowing or having reasonable grounds to believe that it is being used in whole or in part, directly or indirectly, for the benefit of crime commits the crime of “money laundering” and, if convicted, is liable to a maximum fine of $5 million and 14 years in prison.
The police would like to remind the public,”Don’t borrow, don’t sell” and never lend, or sell accounts (including bank, securities and stored value payment instrument accounts, etc.) to others. Police explained, because once the account is used for illegal purposes, the account holder may have committed the crime of “money laundering”.
HK police reminds the public to report if they suspect that they have been defrauded, and call the “Fraud Prevention Hotline” at 182222 for more information.