Global drug-smuggling and money laundering syndicate draws bad hand in Las Vegas
The Las Vegas division Federal Bureau of investigations (FBI) chief, Special Agent Aaron Rouse, and the federal prosecutor in the case, Mister Christopher Chiou, announced the successful bust of a money laundering ring at a press conference earlier this week.
Flanked by law enforcement officials from Australia, Canada, Columbia, Costa Rica, Israel, Romania and the United Kingdom, Mr Rouse explained that “Operation Money Maker”- which is ongoing- spanned six years and involved 30 or more countries. Amongst the multiple arrests facilitated by the global operation were six in the USA, of whom two are Las Vegas residents, for charges ranging from conspiracy to distribute illegal narcotics to money laundering.
Mr Rouse further explained that “the cog supports multiple other criminal organizations. Take the cog out, the spokes fall. So, the disruption and significant impact that this operation has cannot be overstated.”
Although Mr Rouse played his cards close to his chest regarding specific numbers, places and details of arrests, the special agent deemed the operation a success, stating of these criminals that “their hub is gone.”
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London Metropolitan Police break last month’s record for cryptocurrency money laundering bust
The £180 million (US$250 million) cryptocurrency seizure topped the previous record £114 million (US$158 million) bust which was made in late June.
While the cryptocurrency trade is gradually gaining acceptance amongst the established financial world fraternity, it is still a lucrative avenue for criminals to launder money accrued through illicit enterprises. Trading in cryptocurrencies is relatively anonymous, entirely digitized, international in nature and easily accessible, which make it an attractive option for criminals seeking to legitimize profits from illegal sources.
The Met’s Deputy Assistant Commissioner, Graham McNulty, elaborated that “proceeds of crime are laundered in many different ways. While cash still remains king in the criminal word, as digital platforms develop, we’re increasingly seeing organised criminals using cryptocurrency to launder their dirty money.”
In a tacit warning to criminals wishing to engage in money laundering via cryptocurrencies, Mr McNulty added that “whilst some years ago this was fairly unchartered territory, we now have highly trained officers and specialist units working hard in this space to remain one step ahead of those using it for illicit gain.”
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Hong Kong cops’ cryptocurrency money laundering bust is first of its kind
Hong Kong customs’ syndicate crimes bureau chief, Mr Mark Woo Wai-Kwan, announced the ground-breaking bust of a cryptocurrency scam earlier this week, in which four arrests were made. The arrests were for money laundering operations conducted over 15 months through shell companies utilising 40 digital wallets of the cryptocurrency stablecoin, Tether.
Noting that the scheme had processed HK$1.2 billion (£111.7 million) through Tether’s USDT over a 15 month period, he added that Operation “Coin Breaker” had been in collaboration with authorities in Singapore, where some 60% of the funds had been funnelled through local bank accounts. While this year has seen Chinese authorities cracking down on financial crime perpetrated through cryptocurrency trading on the mainland, this is the first such operation in the special administrative region of Hong Kong.
Mr Woo declined to mention the names of banks involved in the scheme but noted that the bust is the first money laundering case using cryptocurrency which the Hong Kong customs’ syndicate crimes bureau has made.
Read more on this story on The Block Crypto