Hong Kong Arrests 4 in Alleged $155M Crypto Money-Laundering Scheme: Report

15 July 2021
  • Hong Kong authorities arrested four men suspected of involvement in a money-laundering syndicate that involved HK$1.2 billion (US$155 million), the South China Morning Post reported on Thursday.
  • The men, ages 24 to 36, were arrested last week during operation "Coin Breaker," the newspaper cited a Hong Kong customs official as saying.
  • It is alleged the syndicate operated from February 2020 to May this year, with shell companies using e-wallet accounts and a local platform to trade in "privacy coins" issued by Tether Ltd.
  • Customs authorities say the alleged money-laundering syndicate charged criminal clients a commission of 3% to 5%.
  • Stuart Hoegner, general counsel for Tether, told CoinDesk via Telegram on Thursday his company did not issue so-called "privacy coins."
  • It is the first money-laundering case involving cryptocurrency detected by the city's customs authorities, according to the report.
  • Money laundering in Hong Kong carries a maximum penalty of 14 years in prison and a fine of up to HK$5 million (US$643,000).

UPDATE (July 15, 2021, 6:15 UTC): Adds comments from Stuart Hoegner.

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