Thursday, February 22, 2024

Millions in assets seized in money laundering bust

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Police seized $250,000 at one address as part of Operation Menelaus.

Police have arrested six people and seized millions in assets following a significant money laundering investigation in Auckland.

Today, police executed search warrants at addresses in East Tamaki Heights, Remuera, Papatoetoe and Karaka as police continue to focus on targeting those laundering money from the proceeds of crime.

Six people have been arrested as part of Operation Menelaus which has been underway since the beginning of the year.

As part of the operation, police have put restraints on three Remuera properties worth more than $7.3 million in total.

At these locations, police located a total of $250,000 in cash and have frozen a further total of $727,000 in numerous bank accounts.

Police have also seized a number of luxury European vehicles including a $280,000 Bentley Bentayga, a $120,000 Mercedes GLS, a Porsche Cayenne and a Mercedes C Class.

All six are expected to appear in the Auckland District Court later today on a range of charges, including the following:

  • A 38-year-old male faces 22 charges, including 20 counts of money laundering.
  • A 41-year-old female faces nine charges of money laundering.
  • A 65-year-old female faces six charges of money laundering and a charge of structuring under the Anti-Money Laundering and Countering Financing of Terrorism Act.
  • A 35-year-old male faces three charges of money laundering, two charges relating to attempting to import a Class A and Class B drug and three firearms charges relating to unlawful possession of firearms and ammunition.
  • A 36-year-old male faces one charge of money laundering.
  • A 33-year-old female faces one charge of money laundering.

Enquiries are still ongoing and police cannot rule out further arrests as part of this investigation.

Detective Senior Sergeant Wayne Gray, of the Financial Crime Group, says these arrests should serve as a warning to those that may be involved in these kinds of money laundering operations that police will hold them to account.

“Today we have seized around $9m worth of assets out of the hands of those allegedly engaging in criminal activity.

“Police are well aware there are individuals and organisations that are enabling this kind of activity and are more than willing to profit off of the proceeds of crime. Let this be a warning that they are likely to come to police attention.

“Money being laundered in this case is alleged to have come from various sources, including drug dealing. It is well known about the wide ranging harm these sorts of drugs have on our communities.”

He says police will target those who use third parties to assist in disguising funds and assets from law enforcement.

“Police will continue to use the Criminal Proceeds Recovery Act to remove the proceeds of crime from these groups as part of our target to seize $500 million in cash and assets by 2021.”

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