A 30-year-old Sydney man has just been arrested for allegedly trying to launder about $5.5 million into bitcoin through a money-laundering syndicate which he is reportedly the leader of.
According to a Monday report from a local media outlet, the suspect, Yi Zhong, was stopped by police officers on Homebush Road, Strathfield, very early on Monday morning, and a search was conducted on his vehicle.
Zhong was promptly arrested and taken to Auburn police station when two bags containing $1 million in cash were found in his car during the search.
The police also reportedly obtained a search warrant to raid a home in Wentworth Point, where they confiscated more cash, drugs including cocaine, one kilogram of methamphetamine, electronic storage devices, a laptop, and mobile phones.
In a statement, the police said,
” Police will allege in court the man directed a criminal syndicate to launder money by converting cash into bitcoin on his behalf, totaling $5,479,300.”
The Burwood Local Court refused him bail since he is faced with several money-laundering and drug-dealing charges.
Zhong is currently facing a total of 24 charges with 19 counts of knowingly dealing with the proceeds of crime, supplying prohibited drugs in commercial quantities, and intentionally directing the activities of a criminal group.
The operation, which had been led by cybercrime detectives from Strike Force Curns, is one of the law enforcement agency’s breakthroughs since they started investigating the activities of a criminal syndicate laundering money using cryptocurrency in October last year.
The police also noted that the criminal syndicate operates as “money-launders for hire” and that they expect to see additional arrests in the coming month as they search for more evidence.
Zhong is set to appear before the Central Local Court on April 19.
Crypto-related crimes are rapidly increasing every day, and it is constituting a major hindrance to the mainstream adoption of cryptocurrencies.
Just a week ago, the US Justice Department prosecuted three North Korean hackers involved in several cyberattacks that attempted to steal about $1.3 billion worth of cash and cryptocurrencies.