Police Arrest Melbourne Seven For Money Laundering


AFP Arrest Seven in Melbourne and Seize $50 Million For Money Laundering

On Thursday, Australian Federal Police confirmed that they seized $50 million worth of cars and property during a raid. Officers suspect that those arrested committed money laundering crimes via an illegal syndicate. 

Click here to read our Money-Laundering Factsheet. 

Police investigated the Changjiang Currency Exchange for 14 months prior. This was a retail money-transfer business. The group allegedly aided criminals in laundering around $230 million. As a result, police searched homes and offices across all of the major cities in Australia. 

Police charged Zhou Chen with two counts of conspiracy to deal with the proceeds of crime. If found guilty, he could serve life in prison. Furthermore, four others attended a hearing with the Melbourne Magistrates Court. At this time, none of the accused have entered a plea. Those charged will appear again in court in March, 2024. 

As part of the raid, police seized a Mercedes, a $10 million mansion, watches, and handbags. Apparently, the gang lived luxuriously on the proceeds of their crimes. AFP Assistant Commissioner Stephen Dametto stated:

We allege they lived the high life by eating at Australia’s most extravagant restaurants, drinking wine and sake valued in the tens of thousands of dollars, travelling on private jets, driving vehicles purchased for $400,000 and living in homes valued at more than $10 million.”

NSW recently made changes to the Money Laundering Laws, click here to read. 

The Crimes Legislation Amendment (Economic Disruption) Bill 2020 relates to this crime. It implements measures to disrupt criminal organisations (especially for money laundering), including:

  • New penalties
  • Enhanced law enforcement powers
  • Confiscation of assets
  • Prosecution of individuals

How did the Long River gang money launder? 

The group ran a money laundering syndicate. These operations were in retail shops in most of Australia’s biggest cities. AFP Assistant Commissioner, Stephen Dametto, explained how the group got away with it for so long. Dametto stated: 

The AFP will allege the Changjiang Currency Exchange was able to hide its illegal behaviour because it looked like a legitimate and lawful money remitter.” Adding;

The reason why this investigation was so unique and complex was that this alleged syndicate was operating in plain sight with shiny shopfronts across the country.”

Fake documents used for money laundering 

Most of their customers used their service legally, innocently, for foreign exchange. In addition, customers also used it to send money abroad. However, police believe that the gang also helped criminal launder the proceeds of crime. For example, the group ran online scams. In addition, they also trafficked illegal goods and moved money to and from Australia.

Apparently, the group also showed criminals how to fake financial documents including invoices and bank statements. The group also failed to pay taxes on their profits, even those for legal operations. 

Also, a Chinese national has been charged with two counts of recklessly engaging with the proceeds of crime. The police say he used Changjiang to launder $100 million. The group stole these proceeds from the victims of an international investment scam. 

How did police catch Changjiang? 

The police became suspicious of the retail shops during the pandemic. In the height of the lockdowns, there was an usual amount of activity happening in the group’s shops. During this time, international students and tourists had gone home. Therefore, investigators wondered why the group were opening up new shops during the pandemic. 

We will be watching the story closely! 

Related Posts: 

1. Money Laundering| Factsheet. 

2. Recent Updates to Anti-Money Laundering Laws in NSW.

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Nicole Byrne

Content Creator | Media Coordinator
O'Brien Criminal & Civil Solicitors


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Nicole Byrne
Nicole Byrne Content Creator | Media Coordinator O'Brien Criminal & Civil Solicitors www.obriensolicitors.com.au

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