Hong Kong arrests seven people in a 18 billion money.com2Fdf2F9f2Ff5a8f9cdcb68fe54837ede5fc1642F41269ee6aed54aaabda1301ff1f059f4

Hong Kong arrests seven people in a $1.8 billion money laundering case linked to cross-border crime

HONG KONG (AP) — Hong Kong customs officials have arrested seven people linked to the territory's largest-ever money laundering case involving about 14 billion Hong Kong dollars ($1.8 billion), some of them linked to a fraud case in India.

The seven local residents, aged between 23 and 74, were part of a large transnational syndicate that used various shell companies and bank accounts to transfer large sums of money to the city from abroad under the guise of conducting international trade, customs officials said on Friday.

One account received up to 100 million Hong Kong dollars ($12.8 million) in a single day, it said.

Ip Tung-ching, head of the customs financial investigation bureau, said HK$2.9 billion ($371 million) of the total was suspected of being linked to a mobile application fraud case in India. However, she did not reveal what application it was.

Some of those arrested were non-Chinese Hong Kong residents, she said, without giving details.

Authorities believe the syndicate received remittances from India in the name of exporting electronic devices, diamonds, gemstones and precious metals, Ip said. The proceeds were then transferred to bank accounts in Hong Kong for money laundering.

“These money laundering acts provide a protective shield for criminals’ illicit profits,” she said.

Law enforcement agencies in Hong Kong, India and elsewhere cooperated in carrying out the operation and enabled its success, Ip said.

Yu Yiu-wing, the bureau's division commander, said officials exchanged intelligence with Indian authorities and discovered that some of the money came from two jewelry companies that Indian authorities said were linked to the fraud.

A 34-year-old Hong Kong resident arrested in late January is suspected of being the mastermind of the syndicate, she said.

Officials have seized electronic devices, documents and over 8,000 carats of suspected synthetic gemstones apparently intended for export to India.

The investigation continued.

The previous record money laundering case involved approximately 6 billion Hong Kong dollars (US$767 million) and nine people were arrested in January 2023.