Australian Police charges a seven-membered Criminal syndicate for laundering $229 million

October 27, 2023

The Australian Federal Police (AFP) has charged a criminal syndicate of seven members for laundering $229 million over the past three years. The accused are associated with the money remittance network, the Changjiang Currency Exchange.

According to AFP Press Release, the Exchange allegedly facilitated the criminal syndicate in multi-million dollar money laundering.

The said Exchange under its status as a registered money remittance chain, has the legal authority to facilitate international money transfer enabling individuals to access funds in their desired currency. The Exchange which is operating 12 branches in each Australian state has successfully transferred funds originating from customers involved in legal transactions worth $10 billion within the past three years.

The press release further reveals that the Exchange allegedly facilitated a system for organized criminals, the Long River money laundering syndicate, to secretly transfer illicitly acquired funds in and out of Australia amounting to $229 million. Allegations suggest that the Exchange made profits with every transaction and imposed higher charges on customers with illegal funds than customers with legal funds.

On 25 October, AFP-led Operation Avarus-Nightwolf executed 20 search warrants with the support of 240 AFP members and 92 specialist members who conducted raids across all mainlands. The operation resulted in the seizure of vehicles and property exceeding $50 million in value.

Charges have been filed against four citizens from China and three from Australia for alleged involvement in money laundering and they are expected to appear in Melbourne Magistrates’ Court on Thursday.

The Assistant Commissioner mentioned one aspect of the investigation was linked to COVID-19 lockdowns in Sydney. the AFP investigators noticed that even during the lockdown, the Changjiang Exchange Currency opened and updated branches in the heart of Sydney.

In August 2022, Operation Avarus-Nightwolf was initiated by Taskforce Avarus, under AFP’s command to scrutinize the activities of the Long River syndicate as per media reports.

The Operation Avarus-Nightwolf, a 14-month investigation, is backed by AUSTRAC, the Australian Border Force (ABF), the Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission (ACIC), the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC), the Australian Taxation Office (ATO), and the United States Department of Homeland Security Investigations (HSI).

World’s Battle Against Money Laundering

Apart from money laundering, Australia has also reported the transfer of illicitly gained funds to foreign tax havens. According to the Global Tax Evasion Report, Australian citizens have held more than $370 billion in foreign tax havens moving their profits into countries with low tax rate that has led to a $11 billion loss in tax revenue for the Australian Treasury.

Countries around the world are facing money laundering and fraud cases causing the laundering of multi-million dollars. The global financial hubs located in Southeast Asia are taking proactive measures to combat money laundering and fraud scams.

Just recently, the Hong Kong Police arrested 84 suspects engaged in fraud and money laundering cases worth HK$118 million approximately.

The Mega Singapore Money Laundering Scandal is also making news questioning the country’s status as a financial hub, The total assets seized in this scandal have reached $1.76 billion.