Customs officers in Hong Kong have smashed a suspected money laundering ring and arrested five men involved in the transportation of HK$170 million (US$21.8 million) across the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau Bridge (HZMB).
According to a statement released by the Hong Kong Government on Wednesday, five men aged between 40 and 43 were arrested between 19 and 23 August for conspiring to “deal with property known or reasonably believed to represent proceeds of an indictable offence” and for contravening the Cross-boundary Movement of Physical Currency and Bearer Negotiable Instruments Ordinance. Three of the men are said to be cross-boundary drivers and two “money changers.”
A report by the South China Morning Post also states that some of the funds were likely laundered through Macau casinos.
The suspected money laundering syndicate was first detected in May, the government said, with the drivers completing a total of 17 runs across the HZMB in the months since and carrying up to HK$27 million (US$3.5 million) at a time.
Two of the drivers were arrested last week as they returned to Hong Kong via the HZMB with a combined HK$20 million (US$2.6 million) found in their vehicles.
Authorities said they are currently being assisted by counterparts in both Macau and Zhuhai and that more arrests could be made in the coming weeks. The source of the original funds also remains under investigation but is believed to be the proceeds of crime.
“It is the first time Hong Kong customs has broken up a money-laundering racket that was involved in bulk cash-smuggling operations and the use of cross-border drivers,” said Senior Superintendent Mark Woo Wai-kwan according to the SCMP’s report.