Hong Kong Customs busts first money laundering network using cryptocurrencies

The Hong Kong Customs and Excise Department announced on Thursday: a money laundering network using cryptocurrencies has been uncovered. The amount involved was up to HK$1.2 billion (about 130 million euros). Police arrested four people, including the network’s leader, and froze HK$20 million in suspicious funds. This is the first time that the Hong Kong Customs and Excise Department has cracked a cryptocurrency money laundering case.

A senior Hong Kong police official (Mark Woo Wai-kwan) disclosed to the media that this is the first time that a network using cryptocurrencies to launder money and hide the source of criminal assets has been uncovered in Hong Kong.

The network opened bank accounts in the names of multiple shell companies and transferred money to these bank accounts through cryptocurrency transactions in order to turn the proceeds of these transactions into customer cash.

In the last 15 months, about 60% of the amount was traded through accounts set up in Singapore, and these suspicious funds were handled by bank transfers and cryptocurrencies.

The AFP report noted that regulators have often questioned the use of cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin, as the anonymous nature that characterizes such cryptocurrencies often facilitates illegal use and abuse. However, various authorities have been increasingly fruitful in tracking down these illegal activities.

London police announced on Tuesday that they had seized a cryptocurrency loot of up to 210 million euros, following the seizure of a cryptocurrency loot involving a money laundering crime in late June, involving up to 114 million pounds. The country’s police are continuing to hunt for the people at the heart of the case.