- Money laundering gang caught by police
- Chinese syndicate “transferred $10 billion”
A sophisticated gang of Chinese money launderers who “hide invisibly” while allegedly turning over $10 billion in three years have been caught by police.
The Changjiang Purse, dubbed the “Long River Syndicate” by criminals, is described by police as a front to launder criminals’ dirty money and transport it abroad.
She used legitimate storefronts to hide income from organized crime groups dealing in drugs, illicit tobacco and fraud.
Beyond complex money laundering, it also allegedly acted as a one-stop shop for organized criminals, teaching them how to create a fake paper trail to avoid detection by authorities.
The network, which had 12 centers across Australia, was dismantled by the Australian Federal Police (AFP), who arrested seven suspected ringleaders in Melbourne’s eastern suburbs on Wednesday.
The Changjiang Purse (pictured), dubbed the “Long River Syndicate” by criminals, is described by police as a front to launder criminals’ dirty money and transport it abroad
Police searched 20 properties in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Adelaide and Perth
The four Chinese nationals and three Australian citizens are accused of laundering nearly $230 million in dirty money – although the actual figure is believed to be far higher.
They allegedly used the proceeds to purchase $10 million worth of luxury real estate, $94,000 worth of Rolex watches and $400,000 worth of Mercedes SUVs.
They even reportedly had plans to build a suburb near Sydney’s second airport to launder even more cash.
Police searched a total of 20 properties in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Adelaide and Perth.
AFP deputy commissioner Stephen Dametto said the Long River syndicate had become “one of the largest independent remittance operators in the country”.
“The reason this investigation was so unique and complex was because this alleged syndicate operated in plain sight with shiny storefronts across the country – it did not operate in secret like other money laundering organizations,” he said.
Over 40 AFP officers worked on the 14-month operation, along with five forensic accountants and undercover investigators.
AFP officials became aware of the syndicate when it opened new storefronts in Sydney’s CBD during the lockdown, while others in the area closed.
The four Chinese nationals and three Australian citizens are accused of laundering nearly $230 million in dirty money, using the proceeds to purchase $10 million worth of luxury real estate (above), $94,000 worth of Rolex watches. Dollars (below) and having purchased $400,000 worth of Mercedes SUVs
The ringleaders also squandered their allegedly ill-gotten gains on luxury cars (picture)
“It was just a gut feeling – it didn’t feel right,” AFP deputy commissioner Stephen Dametto told the newspaper.
“During COVID-19, AFP members were still coming to work and while most of Sydney was a ghost town, alarm bells rang for our money laundering investigators when they noticed Changjiang Currency Exchange opening two new stores in the heart of Sydney. “
“Many international students and tourists had returned home, and there was no apparent business reason for expanding the Changjiang Currency Exchange.”
The exchange agency’s website still claims it is accurate despite the police raid.
“Changjiang is a legitimate operating company authorized by the Commonwealth of Australia and the financial registration number for the Financial Transactions Report and Analysis Center (AUSTRAC) in the Australian capital is 100-572684,” the website says.
“We are registered with AUSTRAC on the Remittance Sector Register and are subject to obligations under the Anti-Money Laundering and Counter-Terrorism Financing Act 2006. You can check our registration status on the AUSTRAC website.”