Hong Kong: bank workers arrested in connection with laundering of 660 million euros

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Hong Kong | Seven or former bank employees have been arrested in Hong Kong in an investigation into a large international money laundering network involving more than 660 million euros, police said on Wednesday.

“This is the biggest case we have pulled out in several years,” said Yip Wing-lam, of the Financial Crime Bureau, adding that it was the first time bank workers in Hong Kong were arrested for their involvement in money laundering activities.

The police refused to give the identity of the suspects or the names of the banks involved.

Investigators suspect these employees of having helped one of those responsible for this fraud to open bank accounts with false business creation certificates, and of having trained applicants for interviews prior to the creation of accounts.

At least 14 company accounts were opened in 2017 and 2018 using the names of 16 people from mainland China and Belgium.

These accounts held 6.3 billion Hong Kong dollars (668 million euros) of illicit funds. Police said the bulk of these funds came from foreign countries, including Germany, Italy and Vietnam.

A million dollars in cash was also seized from the apartment of one of the suspects, according to the police.

A major international financial center, Hong Kong is still the preferred channel for investors from mainland China wishing to go to foreign markets.

The semi-autonomous territory prides itself on being one of the freest economies in the world.

But organizations campaigning for financial transparency have long accused the former British colony of being a platform of choice for money laundering and the creation of shell companies, due to the laissez-faire attitude of authorities.

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