Six arrested, $5m in assets restrained in money laundering sting

Among the vehicles seized was this Lamborghini Huracan, worth about $450,000.
Photos NZ Police

Six people have been arrested and properties – one in Half Moon Bay – and vehicles totalling around $5 million has been seized following an ongoing investigation into alleged money laundering activity.

This morning, officers from the Financial Crime Group carried out search warrants at six addresses across Auckland.

Today’s arrests are the culmination of a long-running investigation – named Operation Brookings – into individuals primarily involved in money laundering offences and was launched at the beginning of 2020.

The Police Asset Recovery Unit has restrained three properties in Half Moon Bay, Te Atatu and New Lynn, worth at least $3.3m in value.

A Mercedes-Benz G-wagon worth around $280,000 was also seized.

Seven high-end luxury vehicles – a boat and three motorbikes – have also been seized worth a combined value of more than $1.2m.

The vehicles include three new 2020 Mercedes-Benz models, including a G-wagon worth around $280,000 and a Lamborghini Huracan, worth about $450,000.

Around $250,000 in cash was also located and restrained during the search warrants.

Those arrested are four men and two women ranging in age from 29 – 65 years old. They have all been charged with money laundering offences.

A 40-year-old man is expected in the Auckland District Court tomorrow and the remaining individuals will appear in the Auckland District Court on 20/10/2020.

“Police enquiries are ongoing and we are unable to rule out the possibility of further people being charged,” Detective Superintendent Iain Chapman, National Manager of the Financial Crime Group, said in a media statement.

This Rayglass boat was taken in the police sting.

“Today’s arrests and restrained assets are the result of hard work and dedication by police into money laundering offending.

“These alleged offenders profited from laundering funds overseas that were believed to be generated from criminal offending and was illegally gained.

“These individuals are motivated by financial greed and have no concern for the criminal offending that has generated the funds they are profiting from.

“These arrests serve as a warning to anyone involved in money laundering activity. The Financial Crime Group is targeting money laundering offenders and those found to be engaging in this offending will be prosecuted.”

Police will also restrain any assets obtained through criminal offending which will be forfeited to the Crown under the Criminal Proceeds (Recovery) Act 2009.

“These offenders typically drive luxury vehicles which they use as status symbols and police will continue to work tirelessly to restrain any assets derived from the proceeds of illegitimate activity,” Chapman said.

Money Laundering carries a maximum penalty of seven years imprisonment.

Another vehicle seized in Operation Brookings.