22 arrested in crackdown on money-laundering group

Hong Kong and mainland police have arrested 22 people in a crackdown on a cross-border money-laundering syndicate, which they said had handled HK$740 million of suspected crime proceeds.

SAR officers said they earlier received intelligence, and found some suspicious bank accounts to have handled HK$270 million dollars linked to fraud cases involving 43 victims over the past year.

Authorities added that they’re still looking into the source of the remaining funds.

Fourteen people, aged between 23 and 75, were arrested in Hong Kong on Tuesday, while eight people linked to the syndicate were arrested across the border.

The force said a 31-year-old local man, allegedly the ringleader, recruited people to open 85 bank accounts, most of which at virtual banks.

A so-called control centre set up on the mainland would then use these accounts to handle crime proceeds and ultimately transfer the money overseas.

“This syndicate would give money – a few thousand [dollars] – and then ask the stooges to surrender their bank accounts for them,” said senior superintendent Cheng Lai-ki from the police’s financial intelligence and investigation bureau.

“We want to make an appeal to the members of the public: we should never sell or share your bank accounts to any other persons. Because when the syndicates got the bank accounts, they will use the bank accounts for money laundering, receiving or processing the proceeds of crime,”she warned.

Cheng said authorities need to further investigate the source of the money and whether more crimes are involved.