Sydney, Australia, Oct 26 (EFE).- Seven members of an alleged Chinese organized crime syndicate were charged and set to appear in a Melbourne court Thursday, accused of involvement in laundering some AU$229 million ($144 million) since 2020, Australian police said.
The Australian Federal Police (AFP) said in a statement the operation is the “most complex AFP-led money-laundering investigation in the nation’s history.”
The Changjiang Currency Exchange, which has 12 stores in Australia and which police allege is being run by the Long River syndicate, is accused of laundering unlawfully obtained money.
The four Chinese nationals and three Australian citizens of ages ranging from 33-40 were to appear in Melbourne Magistrates’ Court on Thursday.
On Wednesday, more than 240 AFP members, plus 92 specialist members, executed 20 search warrants across every mainland state while simultaneously restraining more than AU$50 million in property and vehicles under Operation Avarus-Nightwolf.
In the last three financial years, Changjiang Currency Exchange made transfers worth more than AU$10 billion, most of it on behalf of clients who did so legally, with the laundered amount totaling nearly AU$229 million, the AFP said.
The police allege that some of the money laundered by the syndicate was from the proceeds of crime, including from cyber-enabled scams, the trafficking of illicit goods and violent crimes, and that it would coach its criminal customers how to create fake business paperwork, such as false invoices and bank statements.
“Put simply this how the AFP alleges money was laundered – that the Changjiang Currency Exchange transferred unlawfully-obtained funds to national and international accounts by claiming it was the legitimate business profits and business expenses of their customers,” the AFP said.
AFP Eastern Command Assistant Commissioner Stephen Dametto said “the reason why this investigation was so unique and complex was that this alleged syndicate was operating in plain sight with shiny shopfronts across the country – it was not operating in the shadows like other money laundering organizations.” EFE