Hong Kong Customs announced Thursday that the agency had disbanded a local cryptocurrency money laundering consortium with HK $ 1.2 billion ($ 155 million). According to several local media sources, the operation is considered the first case for the same species in the city.
Law enforcement officials said suspects opened various local bank accounts with mailbox companies and conducted transactions through a virtual forex trading platform. The agency confirmed that the group is trading through stablecoin tether (USDT).
Mark Woo Wai-kwan, head of the syndicate’s crime investigation department, said:
“This is the first time in Hong Kong that a money laundering ring that uses cryptocurrencies to launder dirty cash and hide the source of criminal assets has been broken into.”
More than 60% of the funds transferred to Singapore via 40 USDT e-wallets in the past 15 months make traceability difficult due to their anonymous properties.
“Up to 500 crypto-related virtual transactions are carried out within six months. Eeach transaction was completed within three to eight hours, with an average of 400,000 virtual currencies. A transaction was even completed within a few minutes. The largest exceeds the equivalent of 20 million Hong Kong dollars in virtual currency. “According to local media from Now News, citing the official.
It was the first time that Hong Kong customs intercepted crypto-related money laundering, the statement said. The crime affected HK $ 1.2 billion (US $ 155 million) while about HK $ 20 million was frozen.
Authorities launched an operation called Coinbreaker last Thursday, July 8th. Four men between the ages of 24 and 33, including the suspected local mastermind, were arrested last Thursday and all are now on bail.
HK intends to step up enforcement amid the crypto-friendly environment
Hong Kong, the pearl of the Orient, enjoys a crypto-friendly environment and was ranked fourth in the “Crypto-ready Index” according to a US study. However, since Hong Kong’s financial regulator intends to limit crypto trading to professional investors only, retail investors might be motivated to do so peer-to-peer and unlicensed trading platforms that increase the financial risk for retail investors and the risk of financial crime overall.
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