Police Sting Uncovers $5.6billion Crypto Laundering Chinese Gambling Ring
Chinese law enforcement have arrested 93 individuals in a 100-day sting operation aimed at cryptocurrency money laundering, with illegal gambling at the heart of the criminal gang’s $5.6billion operation.
The authorities swooped on the 9.15 gang, led by Hong Mau, believed to be at the centre of massive fraud and illegal gambling in Hainan, Guangdong, Fujian, and Jiangxi provinces.
Mau and 92 other gang members were detained at 10 different locations, with funds worth $41.8 million (RMB300 million, and more than 100 electronic gadgets, seized from the suspects.
The Hengyang County Public Security Bureau revealed that the gang used cryptocurrencies to launder their illegal earnings, further converting the assets to US$ in a bid to hide the money trail.
The gang are believed to have been in operation since at least 2018, and in that time laundered more than $5.5billion. So far, authorities have frozen $41.9million in assets and returned $1.08million of the ill-gotten gains to those hoodwinked by the gang.
Those charged face lengthy prison terms of up to 10 years, or more for multiple offences, with massive financial penalties.
The Chinese crackdown on money-laundering has targeted both gambling and cryptocurrencies for several years.
Cryptocurrency transactions were banned outright in 2017, although last year 259 cases of crypto money-laundering were uncovered by police. The Ministry of Public Security attached $1.5billion in virtual currency seizures to those cases.
The only officially recognised cryptocurrency in China is the online Yuan, a state regulated coin, with crypto-mining of other currencies outlawed.
As we reported at the beginning of 2022, the previous year saw 80,000 gambling-related arrests and the closure of 2200 illegal online gambling platforms shut down.
Major players in the Macau junket industry have also been subject to the Chinese authorities’ crackdown, with junket kings Alvin Chau and Levo Chan both currently in custody.
They are charged with similar offences of “criminal organization, illegal gambling including online gambling and ‘betting under the table’”, according to press reports.