New Zealand man faces money laundering crypto charges

New Zealand man faces money laundering crypto charges

By Benson Toti - min read

The arrest and charges were made by the New Zealand police during Operation Brookings

A New Zealand man has been arrested and charged with money laundering through the use of cryptocurrency transactions and luxury car purchases.

A report by the NZ Herald narrates how the 40-year-old man from Auckland faces 30 charges, a bulk of which relate to money laundering. The court documents show allegations that the man collected thousands of New Zealand Dollars (NZD) to purchase cryptocurrency in several money laundering transactions. Others allege that the man had laundered funds through the purchase of high-end vehicles. These accusations include a Lamborghini worth $634,026 NZD ($421,000) and a Black Mercedes G63 worth $435,066 NZD ($288,888).

The man also stands accused of laundering money little over $2.6 million NZD ($1.7 million), which was then used to buy an East Auckland property. Another money laundering charge alleges that he was in possession of an unknown amount of cash for money laundering from an individual while he was at the Auckland Airport earlier this year. In addition, the man has also been accused of obtaining by deception, in relation to a credit of a little over a million NZD from a bank.

The man appeared in the Auckland District Court and was given interim anonymity by Dianne Hale, the Community Magistrate.

His capture is a part of the New Zealand Financial Crime Group’s Operation Brookings, where the investigators targeted professional facilitators that allow organised crime to take place. In total, seven high-end luxury vehicles and three properties that are worth at least $4.9 million NZD ($3.3 million) were seized during the police sting operation.

Six people, including four men and two women, were charged. The individuals range from 29 to 65 years of age and all of them are facing money laundering charges.

In June, this year,  the New Zealand police seized assets that amounted to $136.5 million NZD ($90.68 million) that were linked to a Russian man who was suspected of laundering billions of dollars in digital currency. The police stated that they had seized these assets because they were being held in a company based in New Zealand that was owned by Alexander Vinnik, a Russian man who stands accused of masterminding a bitcoin laundering ring. Vinnik is wanted by both France and the United States.

The US authorities have accused Vinnik of using BTC – e, a digital currency exchange used to trade bitcoin, to facilitate crimes such as computer hacking and drug trafficking since 2011. Vinnik has denied the charges, explaining that he was a technical consultant to BTC – e and not the operator of the exchange.

This has been the largest restraint of funds in the history of the New Zealand Police.