Northern Ireland

Belfast: 11 arrests in money laundering investigation

Cash Image copyright Andrew_Howe

Eleven people have been arrested on suspicion of money laundering after a police operation in Belfast.

Six properties were searched across the city on Monday and six men and five women arrested.

Police said they identified almost £16m which has been deposited to thousands of bank accounts.

They have linked the money to criminal activity carried out by Chinese organised crime groups.

Det Ch Insp Ian Wilson said: "During our investigation we identified that a significant volume of suspected criminal cash was being laundered out of the country through a number of bank accounts held here in Northern Ireland.

"In total, almost £16m has been deposited to thousands of bank accounts across the UK from the accounts since January 2018.

"We believe that the majority of this money is derived from a range of criminal activity carried out by Chinese organised crime groups."

The six men who have been arrested are aged 35, 41, 44, 48 and 67, while the five women are 32, 34, 36, 38 and 60.

Police said the operation was supported by the National Crime Agency, Immigration Enforcement and Border Force and is part of UK wide operation, led by the National Economic Crime Centre.

"Money laundering is often a critical enabler of organised criminality and today's operation is part of a wider ongoing investigation," Det Ch Insp Wilson said.

"We are committed to keeping people safe by robustly pursuing those who are involved in laundering criminally derived money and enabling criminals to access the profits gained from their involvement in a range of illegal activities."