More than HK$8 Billion has been Laundered through Hong Kong Banks in 2020
Victims of online, phone and investment scams have been conned out of more than HK$8 billion (1.07 billion USD). These funds were then laundered through thousands of bank accounts across Hong Kong.
According to the Department of Anti-Fraud of police, around HK$3.07 billion have been scammed out of international and national victims hile around HK$5.26 billion have been taken by swindlers.
The total amount of money halted by the Anti-Deception Coordination Centre in 2020 was the record-breaking amount since 2017. HK$8 billion involved 2,600 stop payment requests which mean thousands of bank accounts were involved in laundering these funds.
A police source said, “It is possibly more than 10,000 accounts were involved, because one such payment could be transferred into several bank accounts and, in most of the cases, money was usually moved between layers of accounts before being channelled out of the city. They recruited people from mainland China and other countries to set up accounts in the city for money laundering, or paid locals to use their accounts to launder swindled money.”
Just in the previous month, up to seven bankers in Hong Kong were arrested in an investigation regarding international money laundering. The syndicate had allegedly laundered HK$6.4 billion over four years. The police have revealed that the syndicate has sent 16 people to the city for opening bank accounts for the purpose of money laundering. In the jurisdiction of Hong Kong, the penalty for money laundering is 14 years in jail with a fine of HK$5 million fine.
According to another source, employees from the local banks have helped to stop 109 people to make payments to scammers. The police have offered to train the bank staff to identify potential victims and how to warn them from getting scammed.