Five members of a Hong Kong family accused of laundering more than HK$3 billion (S$530 million) through 100 personal bank accounts have been arrested, along with the owner of a money exchange business, a senior customs official said on Monday.
According to investigators, the family, which consists of the parents, two sons, and a daughter, had funnelled the cash through the different accounts since 2018.
Senior Superintendent Mark Woo Wai-kwan said the accounts were thought to have been used to collect the money in an attempt to hide its origins.
“There were more than 6,000 suspicious financial transactions, involving more than HK$3 billion. The biggest single transaction was HK$22 million,” he said. “The money was deposited into these accounts from unknown sources or shell companies. This is a traditional tactic of money laundering.”
He said his officers were still investigating the sources of the money and the types of illegal activities it involved, and whether all the cash had been transferred out of the city.
Customs officers had frozen the family’s assets, including HK$15 million in bank accounts, and two properties worth HK$15 million, which they believed were the proceeds of crime, Woo said.
The businessman was also arrested as his company had been involved with the family’s suspicious financial transactions totalling HK$170 million.
Woo said the money exchange company’s licence had been suspended following the owner’s.
The senior superintendent said it was the biggest money laundering case they detected in the past five years, and last week’s arrests followed months of investigations.
All six suspects, four men and two women, were released on bail after being detained on Thursday.
In Hong Kong, money laundering carries a maximum penalty of 14 years in prison, and a HK$5 million fine.
This article was first published in South China Morning Post.