Customs received intelligence last year that a local currency exchange shop was handling large-value suspicious remittance transactions. After follow-up investigation, officers of the Wealth Investigation Bureau discovered that the currency exchange shop had opened a related shell company and bank account. , used to process and receive payments from unknown sources. After many months of investigation, officers from the Bureau, together with officers from the Money Services Supervision Bureau, carried out Operation Code-named "Spark" from Wednesday (4th) to today (6th), raiding 4 residential units and 2 commercial ground floor shops. Including the money change shop, two men and two women (aged 34 to 39 years old) were arrested on suspicion of "conspiracy to launder money", including the owner, compliance officer and staff of the money change shop, as well as an employee of a company next to the money change shop. director. It is reported that the arrested persons include the mastermind. In addition to the above-mentioned compliance officer, the other three people are relatives. All have been released on bail pending further inquiries.
The investigation showed that from January 2021 to July 2023, the compliance officer of the currency exchange shop involved opened 12 accounts in 4 local banks by establishing a local shell company. When he opened an account, he would report it to the bank. The company is said to be engaged in computer trading and technology consulting services, thereby assisting money change shops in handling a large number of suspicious transactions. It is understood that the company has not had a business address since its establishment, and there has been no tax filing record in the past few years. The compliance officer only declared that he was working at a change shop, but the account he opened in the past two years There were more than 1,800 suspicious transactions within half a month, involving approximately HK$600 million.
After checking the records, it was found that his transaction partners involved many unrelated companies, such as food wholesale, shoe trading, etc., which were not commensurate with his company's business, and included local shell companies and overseas companies. The pattern was very suspicious. On the other hand, the account involved also showed extremely unusual transaction patterns. After the funds were received, the money would be transferred out on the same day or within a few days. The maximum number of transactions in a single day was 19, and the maximum amount deposited was as high as 19 million. Hong Kong dollar.
After further investigation, Customs believes that such frequent account transactions are processed through online financial services and conducted at the above-mentioned search locations. It is suspected that someone knows the law and breaks the law, taking advantage of his position as the compliance officer of the exchange shop and setting up a shell company account to avoid due diligence. Review and other supervision of money service operations. During the operation, customs seized multiple mobile phones, computers and some bank and remittance documents. Customs is tracing the source of the unidentified funds and will follow the background of the arrested persons and the flow of funds. It does not rule out that more people will be arrested. In addition, the Customs also investigates the currency exchange shop involved in accordance with the statutory requirements and established procedures of the Anti-Money Laundering Ordinance. If relevant violations are found, the Customs may temporarily revoke its license.
Original URL: https://hk.on.cc/hk/bkn/cnt/news/20231006/bkn-20231006150012713-1006_00822_001.html