Money Laundering Raids Linked in Australia, Italy, India Linked to Chinese Gangs

Posted on: October 27, 2023, 06:47h. 

Last updated on: October 30, 2023, 04:52h.

International money laundering raids over the last two months show an increased connection to Chinese gangs. The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime believes the illegal money laundering market is worth as much as $2 trillion a year.

A man holds a stack of money
A man holds a stack of money. Chinese criminal gangs are believed to be leading massive money laundering schemes around the world. (Image: iStock)

This week, the Australian Federal Police (AFP) revealed that they confiscated assets totaling over AU$50 million (US$32 million) and arrested seven in connection to an alleged money laundering syndicate named “Long River.” Among those arrested are four Chinese nationals and three Australian citizens.

The money laundering scheme operated out of “Changjiang Currency Exchange,” a major independently owned money remittance service in Australia.

The syndicate, believed to be of Chinese origin, is accused of laundering criminal proceeds amounting to AU$229 million (US$145.07 million), derived from illicit activities such as cyber fraud, the trafficking of illegal goods, and involvement in violent crimes.

This is the third instance of a China-related money laundering bust by the AFP this year.

AFP officers also recently arrested a Chinese national on charges related to allegedly utilizing an Australian crime syndicate to launder AU$100 million (US$63.35 million).

In February, the AFP pressed charges against nine members of a Chinese-Australian money laundering syndicate, leading to the seizure of assets totaling over AU$150 million (US$95.02 million).

Connection to Italy’s ‘Ndrangheta Mafia

Earlier this month, 33 people were arrested in Italy for roles in money laundering schemes, according to reports from Reuters. Among those were seven Chinese nationals.

The group acted as money brokers, laundering as much as $53 million for different groups, including the ‘Ndrangheta mafia.

Colonel Francesco Ruis of Italy’s Guardia di Finanza, the country’s main financial crime police force, expressed that only about 20% of the operation had been dismantled.

India’s Smart Phone Link

Also this month, India’s financial crime agency apprehended four individuals for alleged involvement in a money laundering scheme. Among them was Guangwen Kuang, a Chinese national serving as the head of administration at the phone manufacturer Vivo.

Indian law enforcement has also charged Vivo and its competitor Xiaomi, for criminal activity in a separate case. They are charged with allegedly aiding in the illicit transfer of funds to a news portal currently under investigation for disseminating Chinese propaganda.

Vivo, owned by China’s BBK Electronics, holds the second-largest market share in India’s smartphone industry. It accounts for 17% of shipments, as reported by research firm Counterpoint. The company is positioned as a significant player in the Indian market.

Another money-laundering scandal tied India to Dubai. Indian authorities have charged 14 people with links to Mahadev Book, an illegal sports betting app. Of those 14, nine are on the run.

The app was launched by two Indian entrepreneurs but established in Dubai. The platform allegedly made as much as $24 million a day. It used a network of individuals throughout Asia, including China, to launder the proceeds.

Spain’s Drug Trafficking Raid

In September, Spanish police raided an international criminal group responsible for laundering money from drug traffickers throughout Europe and Asia. They arrested 27 people, including Chinese and Albanian nationals.

The group reportedly laundered around $68 billion during its year in operation; however, officials believe the operation may have handled more.

Chinese players had important roles in the group, according to a statement from authorities. Two agents recruited Asian businesses, such as Chinese restaurants and independent shops, throughout Spain to help them launder the money.