The Australian Federal Police (AFP) has uncovered a money laundering syndicate, named the Long River syndicate, which is alleged to have utilized the Changjiang Currency Exchange as a front for laundering around $229 million in illicit funds over the past three years.
As part of Operation Avarus-Nightwolf, a series of targeted raids were executed, confiscating high-end properties and vehicles with an estimated value of $50 million.
Changjiang Currency Exchange Exposed
A major operation led by AFP has exposed the Long River syndicate, a money laundering network allegedly using the Changjiang Currency Exchange. Over the last three years, approximately $229 million in illicit funds have been laundered through twelve establishments across Australia.
The investigation led to the arrest of four Chinese nationals and three Australians in Melbourne’s eastern suburbs, all accused of involvement in the syndicate. They are expected to face the Melbourne Magistrates Court in the coming days.
The AFP’s Assistant Commissioner, Stephen Dametto, shed light on what led to the investigation, stating, “It was just a gut feeling – it didn’t feel right.” He explained that the expansion of the Changjiang Currency Exchange during the COVID-19 lockdowns raised suspicions, especially considering the decrease in international students and tourists.
The AFP uncovered alleged connections between Changjiang Currency Exchange and known money laundering groups. Over the past three years, the exchange chain reportedly transferred over $10 billion, with the AFP claiming the company facilitated unlawful money transfers for organized criminals.
Unveiling the Intricate Web of ML and Luxurious Lifestyles
The business allegedly engaged in money laundering activities totaling $228,883,561 between 2020 and 2023, with suspicions that some funds originated from cyber-enabled scams, illicit goods trafficking, and violent crimes.
According to the police, the syndicate aided its criminal clientele in fabricating business records, including forged invoices and bank statements. This allowed the criminals and the Changjiang Currency Exchange to present the illicit funds as originating from legitimate sources should authorities investigate them.
Syndicate members led opulent lifestyles, frequenting extravagant restaurants, indulging in expensive wines and sake, traveling by private jets, driving high-end vehicles, and residing in multi-million-dollar homes. To evade detection, they reportedly acquired counterfeit passports at $200,000 each.
Assistant Commissioner Dametto underscored the sophistication of the Long River syndicate, describing it as a highly intricate money laundering group deeply entrenched within the financial services industry. He expressed confidence that the charges filed in this case would effectively disrupt the inflow and outflow of illicit funds in Australia soon.