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Hong Kong watchdogs arrest culprits for money laundering

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Intro: Four men and a  mastermind running a money-laundering syndicate in the city have been arrested by the Hong Kong Police. The officials have dismantled the operation of the gang that used cryptocurrency to process HK$1.2 billion for illegal funds.

Four men along with the local mastermind of the money laundering syndicate have been arrested by the Hong Kong Police. The customs officials have confirmed that they had dismantled the money laundering syndicate that used cryptocurrency to process HK$1.2 billion ($155 million) in illegal funds.

It is one of the first successful operations to have been done by the police. Mark Woo Wai-Kwan, Senior Superintendent of Police has said that it is the first time that the police have arrested the money-laundering ring which was using cryptocurrency to wash dirty cash and conceal the source of criminal assets was broken up.  

Authorities on strict vigil 

The four men along with the local who had been arrested for the crime are now on bail while HK $20million had been frozen by the authorities. as per the investigators, the perpetrators had opened various fake bank accounts with shell companies.

The perpetrators had run many transactions through digital currency exchange platforms. This was done to change cryptocurrency into real cash for clients. The authorities have informed that nearly 60 percent of the funds had been channelled via bank accounts in Singapore in the last 15 months. 

Officials investigating the case have informed that the group was trading in privacy coins issued by the cryptocurrency Tether. Cryptocurrencies are a boon to criminal activities. The criminal networks and the money launderers find ways to perform criminal activities for their benefit. 

It is very difficult to trace Money laundering and other such activities than conventional cash transactions. However, the watchdogs are making some headway by keeping a strict vigil on the malicious activities.

Recently, British Police have seized a record of 180 million pounds in cryptocurrency. This money was suspected to have been used in criminal enterprises. Similarly, last month China also arrested more than a thousand people for using the profits from crime to purchase cryptocurrencies. 

Crypto impact in China

China has not been keen on promoting cryptocurrency in the nation. Beijing has turned its back on cryptocurrency in recent months and has imposed some restrictions on the crypto market. A regulatory crackdown on tech has also been observed in the crypto market.

China has banned the trading of cryptocurrency. The country is promoting its digital currency Yuan in full stream. The authorities have recently closed all mines operating in the country and gave warning to all the banks to put a halt on the related transactions. 

Before the crackdown on mining in China, the sector mined nearly 80 per cent of the global trade in cryptocurrencies. Since Hong Kong is a global financial hub and many businesses are running, the country became the hotspot for money laundering. 

The city has put a hold on cryptocurrency trading recently and has asked the platforms to register to the authorities first and be subject to anti-money laundering and counter-terrorism financing rules. However, campaigners complain that the city is a hub for money laundering and setting up shell companies as there are no strict rules and regulations. 

The authorities in January had arrested seven former and current Bank employees who were running an operation against a US$810 million international money laundering syndicate. 

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