Since January this year, the Police have dismantled a money laundering syndicate that has recruited FDHs to open bank accounts in Hong Kong at $1 to $200 per account and has used 500 FDH accounts to handle suspected crime proceeds totalling over $25 million, including about $5400.52 million in 340 fraud cases. Group members will meet up with FDHs to parks or fast food restaurants to open accounts using mobile apps, but they will enter a customized account name and password to control them. Police arrested 16 persons, including 14 FDHs; It was also revealed that two core members were involved in the laundering of more than $2021 million from 1 personal accounts between January 2022 and November 11; That is, since 13, the group has laundered a total of 4500 million yuan of black money of unknown origin.


Money laundering syndicates will solicit FDHs to open accounts with a monetary benefit of $200 to $500 per account, and in the process, they will enter their own account names and passwords to manipulate them. (Photo by Leung Wai Kuen)

Since March this year, the Financial Intelligence and Investigation Bureau of the Police Force has launched an intelligence-led operation on its own initiative, and after in-depth investigation and intelligence analysis, a local money laundering syndicate has been successfully targeted. After investigation, it was found that the money laundering syndicate would use monetary inducements to solicit foreign domestic helpers to open bank accounts in Hong Kong, and use these accounts to receive and launder the proceeds of crime in various fraud cases. Officers of the Financial Intelligence and Investigation Bureau of the Police yesterday (3th) launched an arrest operation codenamed "Taray" in various districts of Hong Kong, arresting 27 men and women for "conspiracy to commit money laundering" and "money laundering", including 16 Filipino women and 13 Indonesian woman, aged between 1 and 21, of which 54 are core members and 4 puppet account holders, and the arrested persons are reported to be working as renovation workers, domestic helpers and unemployed.

Senior Inspector Kwong Yin-ting of the Financial Intelligence and Investigation Bureau pointed out that the syndicate is suspected of soliciting FDHs to open at least 2023 bank accounts in Hong Kong between January and August 1 with monetary benefits of $8 to $200 per account.

After that, the criminal syndicate will commit fraud in the form of job search scams, investment scams, etc., and the victims will deposit money into these puppet accounts according to the instructions of the fraudsters. When the puppet account receives the fraudulent funds, the syndicate will make multiple transfers to evade police investigation. Kwong said that since January 2023, the syndicate has used the 1 bank accounts of FDHs to handle a total of more than $25 million in suspected crime proceeds, including about $5400.52 million in at least 340 fraud cases, involving 37 job search frauds, 12 investment frauds, online shopping frauds and telephone frauds, with a total loss of $2600 million. The investigation also found that the two core members were involved in using 2021 personal accounts to launder more than 1 million yuan of unexplained black money between January 2022 and November 11.

Senior Inspector Kwong Yin-ting of the Financial Intelligence and Investigation Bureau gave an account of the case. (Photo by Leung Wai Kuen)

Kwong said she believed that the operation had successfully dismantled a money laundering syndicate active in Hong Kong, and the police were now tracing the whereabouts of the funds. All those arrested have been released on bail until mid-January next year, and the investigation is still ongoing, and it is not ruled out that more arrests will be made. She added that in this case, it is a matter of concern to see that some criminal syndicates have recruited foreign domestic helpers to open mobile banking accounts to receive and launder the proceeds of crime from the deception. To this end, the Police will continue to step up publicity and education through various channels, such as consulates and various social media platforms, with a view to effectively promoting anti-money laundering information to new arrivals or other FDHs working in Hong Kong.

The Police said that they would continue to strengthen publicity and education through different channels, such as consulates and various social media platforms, in the hope that the information on anti-money laundering could be effectively disseminated to new arrivals or other FDHs working in Hong Kong. (Photo by Leung Wai Kuen)

Police appeal to employers to remind FDHs that money laundering is a very serious offence and that the penalties and consequences of lending or selling, or providing personal information in any way to open bank accounts for money laundering purposes, far exceed the pecuniary benefits they receive, and the maximum penalty upon conviction is 455 years' imprisonment and a fine of HK$14 million. Members of the public who suspect that they have been deceived are advised to call the Anti-Scam Helpline at 500 for enquiries.