Man gets 10 yrs for money laundering

Updated: 2013-01-24 07:10

By Fan Feifei(HK Edition)

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A 22-year-old mainland youth has been convicted in Hong Kong's biggest money laundering case ever and sentenced to 10 years and six months in jail.

Luo Juncheng was found guilty of the illegal transfer of HK$13.1 billion in funds. High Court Judge E Toh noted a growing trend in the number of money laundering cases and in the amount of money involved.

The maximum penalty for money laundering is 14 years imprisonment. Tou suggested the authorities re-examine the question to evaluate whether the penalty should be increased.

Toh also said, though the defendant was goaded by others on the mainland into his criminal enterprise, Luo was in charge of the situation and it was he who opened the accounts in Hong Kong through which the funds were transferred. The judge noted HK$1 million was transferred from Macao to Hong Kong, elevating the case to an overseas level.

Luo came to Hong Kong between August, 2009, and April, 2010, on two way permits. He bought a local company through a secretarial company, then opened accounts at the Chiyu Bank in the name of his company and in his own name.

From September, 2009, to April, 2010, the company account showed 4,800 deposit records and 3,500 transfer records, in amounts exceeding HK$13.1 billion. The money transfers ranged from hundreds of thousands of dollars to HK$2.60 million.

The amount of money the defendant laundered each day amounted to up to HK$50 million on average over an eight month span. On one occasion Luo made four transfers from the company account into his personal account to engage in share trading.

The heavy activity in his accounts aroused the suspicions of police. Luo's accounts were subsequently frozen by police in April, 2010. The defendant then telephoned the police demanding to know the reasons for the seizure. Police asked him to come to Hong Kong for questioning, but Luo refused. In January, 2012, he was arrested at Lok Ma Chau, entering Hong Kong.

He was charged with one count of dealing with property known or believed to represent the proceeds of an indictable offence. He was convicted of the charge on Tuesday and sentence was handed down on Wednesday.

According to official statistics, 147 people were convicted of money laundering from January to November last year, a slight decrease from the previous year. In 2011, 234 people were convicted of money laundering.

(HK Edition 01/24/2013 page1)