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37-year-old Zhuo Chen has been granted bail after being charged for allegedly money laundering.

Chen is alleged to be a ringleader and founder of the Changjiang Currency Exchange used to launder moneyfor criminals.

Chen is accused of handling $10.1 billion in transactions through the Exchange business. $229 million of dirty money was allegedly moved both in and out of Australia, while Chen and those involved would allegedly claim a 10% commission.

The Melbourne Magistrates Court, last week Thursday, was told that Chen was allegedly a main ringleader who received up to 30% profits from the syndicate.

The court was also told that Chen allegedly benefits from over $6 million in controlled accounts by him while having a declared income of $49,000 in the 2022/23 financial year.

In what was a controlled undercover operation by the Australian Federal Police (AFP), the court was told there are numerous recorded phone call conversations of Chen disclosing the profits of the Exchange.

Chen had allegedly claimed that while the Exchange declared only $500K profits, in reality it made $40 million in the previous financial year and is expected to make over $50 million in the current year.

It is alleged that during one of the recorder phone conversations, Chen has said “We f$%&*# accepted about $100,000 right. It’s all pig butchering money”.

Reference to “pig butchering” is a allegedly a reference to romance scams.

Other than the risk of tampering or removing evidence, given the large amount of money and resources that Chen would have access to, the prosecution strongly opposed bail before the Melbourne Magistrates Court last Thursday.

Notwithstanding, Magistrate Malcolm Thomas granted Chen bail with conditions to mitigate those risks. Chen was bailed on conditions to wear a ankle monitor, limited phone and internet access, and a bail security bond of his parent’s home valued at $1 million.

Chen has indicated he will defend the allegations, while the AFP have said that this is the most complicated money laundering cases in Australia’s history.

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What is Money Maundering?

Money laundering is turning illegal money into legal money for personal gain. The illegal money is normally the result of the proceeds of crime.

Money laundering takes many forms, including gambling in attempts to turn dirty money into legitimate money.

Section 193B of the Crimes Act 1900 (NSW) is a provision commonly used in money laundering prosecutions. It prescribes up to 20 years imprisonment for dealing with proceeds of crime knowing it is proceeds of crime and intending to conceal that it’s proceeds of crime.

Section 193(2) of the Crimes Act 1900 (NSW) is another money laundering provision commonly used to prosecute people who deal with proceeds of crime knowing it is proceeds of crime, carrying up to 15 years imprisonment.

Section 193(3) of the Crimes Act 1900 (NSW) is yet another money laundering provision commonly used in such cases to prosecute people who deal with proceeds of crime being reckless as to whether it is proceeds of crime, carrying up to 10 years imprisonment.

Click here for more on what is proceeds of crime?


Image credit: Kenishirotie

Published on 08/11/2023

AUTHOR Jimmy Singh

Mr. Jimmy Singh is the Principal Lawyer at Criminal Defence Lawyers Australia - Leading Criminal Lawyers in Sydney, Delivering Exceptional Results in all Australian Criminal Courts.

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