Breaking news reports that seven current and former members working for undisclosed banks in Hong Kong have been arrested for laundering up to $810 million dollars over the course of four years.
This is not the first time scandalous circumstances surrounding shady dealings concerning banks in this area have swept the headlines. Phil Ming Xu was arrested back in 2015 for financial crimes that involved moving dirty money through Hong Kong bank accounts at HSBC.
This scam was known as WCM777 and the major players falsely moved millions of investors’ money into private accounts meant to be reserved for investing in cloud-computing services. This Ponzi scheme was brought to light by a panel of investigative journalists seeking justice for those victims of financial crimes called the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists.
This same group was responsible for nailing the seven guilty members accused of money laundering based on years worth of backlogged leaked documents from informants on the inside.
What was brought to light?
The following financial misdeeds were brought to the public eye when Hong Kong police raided five businesses involved and the seven apartments of the banking staff implicated in laundering funds according to the sting operation this past Wednesday, January 19th.
One of the guilty parties will have a difficult time feigning ignorance and innocence when it comes to their day in court after police found an exorbitant $7.8 million in cash stashed away in their living quarters. The superintendent at the commercial crime bureau, Yip Wing-lam proclaimed, “It’s the largest case we have busted in recent years,” in this recent press release.
This was also the first time banking staff on a local level was involved in such a far-reaching federal crime such as money laundering—orchestrated by an international syndicate of money-hungry, modern-day gangsters. The punishment for this offense is being sentenced to 14 years in jail and a hefty fine of five million dollars.
Hong Kong is an international epicenter touting the myriad benefits of a free economy.
However, a free economy equates to lax regulations that attract criminal minds that want to take advantage of a system easier to manipulate with less government overreach. This is the reason why so many shell companies and laundering activities take place in a market with minimal regulation and security programs in place to alert higher-ups to financial discrepancies and fraudulent activities.
It is because of these underregulated markets why the perpetrators were able to set up 14 business accounts between 2017 and 2018 holding over $810 million dollars in illicit cash.
The bureau currently investigating the case found that the seven members arrested for illegally laundering money did so by helping a member of the international syndicate involved in stealing this money find loopholes in applying for legitimate-looking business accounts.
There were 16 people total involved in this international syndicate and they were traced back to living in either mainland China or Belgium. The local bankers aided in forging false company documents and helped coach future applicants involved in the scam on how to master opening new business accounts to run even more dirty money through. This fact highlights the local bankers’ complicit nature regarding these crimes. Furthermore, once these illegal funds were seized back by the government they found direct links to accounts in Italy, Germany, and Vietnam.
All we know so far concerning the specific details of people and institutions directly involved in this case is what the most recent public police reports tell us. The guilty parties are five men and two women all in their early to mid-’30s that work at undisclosed banks in Hong Kong.
I’m sure the case will continue to unfold in the upcoming weeks once authorities complete a thorough investigation. No sense in publicly outing persons and places involved before a fair trial.