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Australian police seize over luxury assets worth millions after laundering probe

Australian police seize over luxury assets worth millions after laundering probe
People at the Sydney Opera House in Sydney, New South Wales, Australia, 09 March 2020. Police have seized luxury goods worth millions, after a money-laundering probe.(Photo: EPA-EFE/STEVEN SAPHORE AUSTRALIA AND NEW ZEALAND OUT)

Australian police have arrested seven people and seized more than A$50-million ($31.6-million) in property and vehicles, as a result of a 14-month investigation into alleged money laundering by an organised crime syndicate. 

The Australian Federal Police allege the Chinese syndicate Long River secretly ran the Changjiang Currency Exchange and used it to launder almost A$229-million in proceeds of crime over three years. The group had 12 shop fronts covering every mainland Australian state.

The AFP said the investigation, dubbed Operation Avarus-Nightwolf, was one of the most complex investigations of its kind in the country’s history.

The Changjing Currency Exchange transferred more than A$10-billion during the past three financial years, police said, most of which was lawful, but some of which is alleged to be the proceeds of crime, including cyber-enabled scams, the trafficking of illegal goods and violent crime.

Syndicate members were able to generate significant illegal wealth from the scheme, according to police. 

“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, traveling on private jets, driving vehicles purchased for A$400,000 and living in expensive homes, with one valued at more than A$10-million,” said AFP Eastern Command Assistant Commissioner Stephen Dametto.

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