Five arrests in $60m money laundering bust

·2-min read

Three men charged over an alleged $60 million money laundering operation that relied upon converting cash into cryptocurrency have faced a Victorian court.

Boliang Liu, 34, Wei Wang, 32, and Tao Zhou, 38, on Friday appeared in Melbourne Magistrates Court charged with multiple offences including money laundering and handling the proceeds of crime.

Detective Senior Constable Shaun Roberts said the group laundered the money either by converting it into cryptocurrency or by using international remittance service providers.

It also used Chinese social media accounts to contact former residents and students in Australia to ask for their bank account details just before they left the country.

Police allege Liu directed the syndicate and that Wang, who holds a masters in business risk management and once dreamed of a career in IT, was personally responsible for converting more than $27 million into cryptocurrency.

Wang, a 32-year-old unemployed Chinese national, was on Thursday arrested in Mount Waverley with more than $100,000 in cash in his car boot, Det Sen Const Roberts said.

Another $80,000 was found at his Blackburn home.

"He's lost $180,000 - someone will want him to pay that back," Det Sen Const Roberts told the court.

"He will need to pay that back and he doesn't have too many job prospects, so I believe he would hire himself out to do other cryptocurrency work for other syndicates.

"He has a particular skill set with crypto - people would want to recruit him. And I believe he would do that basically because he needs the money."

Liu and Zhou did not apply for bail while Wang applied for bail with a $10,000 surety but was rejected.

Prosecutor Candice Caretti said the surety offered was "woefully inadequate" in the context of an alleged $60 million operation and opposed bail being granted.

Ms Caretti also said the alleged syndicate had access to high quality fraudulent passports, making for a possible flight risk.

Magistrate Daniel Muling said there was an unacceptable risk of Wang failing to answer bail.

"This is a very sophisticated enterprise you are alleged to be involved in and you play, on the evidence, a critical role," Mr Muling told Wang.

"It would be an understatement for me to say this involves a significant amount of money and it is a very serious case.

"I would venture to say it is a strong case against you."

Mr Muling also said the 32-year-old man likely faced a substantial prison term.

Two other arrests were made on Thursday in relation to the alleged money laundering operation.

Liu, Wang, and Zhou are expected to face a committal mention on February 18.

None of them have any prior criminal history.

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