In a recent bust of a money laundering case involving cryptocurrencies, Hong Kong authorities arrested four people. The suspects have reportedly laundered a massive HK$1.2 billion ($150 million) funneled through bank accounts in Singapore over the last 15 months. The Hong Kong Customs had launched operation “Coin Breaker” last week on July 8 for this purpose. Crypto-related crimes like money laundering and terror funding have been a major concern among regulators.
“It is the first time in Hong Kong that a money-laundering ring is using cryptocurrency.”
Senior Superintendent Mark Woo Wai-kwan of customs’ syndicate crimes investigation bureau said, “It is the first time in Hong Kong that a money-laundering ring involved in using cryptocurrency to wash dirty cash and conceal the source of criminal assets was broken up.” The Senior Superintendent also noted that the nature of the scam and its execution has made it even more difficult to trace. Cryptocurrencies transactions can be anonymous, which makes it difficult for the authorities to trace them back to criminals.
The alleged mastermind was controlling three shell companies to launder this money.
The alleged mastermind behind the money laundering scam was controlling three shell companies to launder this money. The authorities have thus frozen HK$20 million in suspicious bank accounts believed to be a part of these criminal proceeds. The alleged syndicate behind this scam has been operating since February 2020. Woo further noted, “The three men were recruited by the syndicate with monetary rewards, and each received between HK$10,000 and HK$20,000 a month”. Besides, the shell companies then opened three e-wallet accounts with a local crypto exchange platform for their nefarious purposes. Here, they would trade the so-called privacy coins against stablecoin Tether.