Hong Kong siblings arrested on suspicion of laundering HK$384 million through various channels, including cryptocurrency platform


Hong Kong customs on Tuesday arrested a pair of siblings accused of laundering HK$384 million (US$49.2 million) through various means, including by using cryptocurrency pegged to the US dollar.

The sister-and-brother duo, aged 28 and 21 respectively, said they only earned up to HK$15,000 monthly from their claimed occupations. They were arrested in their home in Yau Tong.

Initial investigations revealed a total of HK$384 million was transferred through their personal accounts between May and November last year at various banks in Hong Kong, as well as on a cryptocurrency exchange trading platform.

The enormous sum did not match the income of the suspects, who also failed to explain the source, prompting officers to believe the siblings were laundering black money through bank transfers, cash deposits and cryptocurrency.

Yu Yiu-wing, senior investigator of customs� syndicate crimes investigation bureau, said the brother had handled HK$38 million in his registered account under a cryptocurrency exchange trading platform.

"One cryptocurrency was pegged to US dollars. It was converted into US dollars on the platform and transferred to the brother�s bank account. The money was then diverted to different personal and corporate accounts," said Yu, adding that some were transferred to cryptocurrency wallets, an act authorities believed was meant to make investigations difficult.

"We believe the [suspects] made use of the obscurity of the platform to help others convert the unknown [income] to fiat money through cryptocurrency."

The siblings were found to have received more than HK$100 million from 380 different personal bank accounts of other people in nearly 2,500 transactions. A single day saw as many as 143 transactions, with the biggest one reaching HK$3 million.

Yu said cash was also deposited in 617 attempts through ATMs on late nights, with each transaction reaching HK$100,000.

"All these are not normal transaction means. The suspects failed to explain the enormous financial sources, so we believed the pair used their different bank accounts to process crime proceeds," he added.

The siblings were arrested for money laundering, which carries a maximum jail term of 14 years. They were released on bail pending investigation. Authorities froze some HK$130,000 in their bank accounts.

Yu said officers were looking into the financial sources and whether a syndicate was behind the operation. He did not rule out further arrests.

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Source: SCMP