The Hong Kong Police reported on Saturday, 26 August, that there were 3 Filipinos out of 11 persons arrested in an anti-money laundering operation conducted on 24-25 August.
The arrested persons, five local men, three local women and three Filipino women, aged between 22 and 39, on suspicion of “dealing with property known or believed to represent proceeds from an indictable offence” (commonly known as “dealing with property known or believed to represent proceeds of an indictable offence”).
The operation was suspected of “dealing with property known or believed to represent the proceeds of an indictable offence” (commonly known as “money laundering”) and “fraud”.
In Police case briefing, explained that the operation succeeded in dismantling a criminal syndicate suspected of laundering more than HK$124 million from at least 52 accounts between October 2002 and August this year through the recruitment and manipulation of dummy accounts. The investigation also revealed that the syndicate was involved in more than 20 cases, including loan fraud, commercial fraud, investment fraud and email fraud.
During the operation, the police cracked down on one of the syndicate’s operational bases and cash storage premises in Tsim Sha Tsui and seized cash with a total value of about HK$800,000, as well as a number of seals and documents.
After an in-depth investigation, the Police found that one of the syndicate members had used two private companies to apply for the Government’s “100% Guaranteed Special Loan” using false bank statements and had successfully swindled a total of $3.9 million. The police subsequently intercepted another loan application worth $2.65 million.
All the arrested persons are being detained for investigation. The case is still under investigation and more arrests are not ruled out.
The police reiterated that “money laundering” is a serious crime and that members of the public should not open bank accounts for use by others or lend bank accounts to others for illegal purposes. According to the Organized and Serious Crimes Ordinance (OSCO) (Cap. 455), any person who knows or has reasonable grounds to believe that any property is being handled wholly or partly, directly or indirectly, for the purpose of obtaining the proceeds of crime commits the offence of money laundering, and is liable to a maximum penalty of a fine of $5,000,000 and 14 years imprisonment if convicted.
The Police would also like to remind the public not to “rent, borrow or sell” accounts (including bank, securities and stored value payment instruments accounts, etc.) to others, as the account holders may have committed money laundering if the accounts are used for illegal purposes. The Police would like to remind members of the public that conspiracy to defraud, fraud and the use of false instruments are very serious crimes and are liable to a maximum penalty of 14 years imprisonment upon conviction, so members of the public should not be tempted to take risks.