In a significant crackdown, The Australian Federal Police (AFP) have detained seven individuals linked to a remittance firm controlled by a Chinese syndicate. This company is implicated in laundering an astounding AU$228 million ($144 million) across fiat and cryptocurrency.
The operation, named Avarus-Nightwolf, involved over 300 police officers who executed 20 search warrants across Australia. Their efforts led to the seizure of assets valued at more than AU$50 million ($32 million), including luxury real estate, vehicles, and other goods.
Central to this investigation is the Changjiang Currency Exchange, believed to be covertly operated by the Long River syndicate. The Australian Police found that money laundered by this exchange was associated with the misuse of an investment app named MetaTrader and other crypto platforms. Shockingly, the firm processed over AU$10 billion ($6.3 billion) in the last three years. While much of this is deemed legitimate, the AFP claims AU$228 million originates from scams, illegal trafficking, and crimes.
The AFP's probe began in August 2022 when the company expanded its Sydney storefronts during COVID-19 lockdowns. Assistant Commissioner Stephen Dametto emphasized the syndicate's audacity, noting its open operations across the country.
Interestingly, the Changjiang Currency Exchange offered anti-money laundering advice to clients, portraying a lawful image. They even hired former government minister, Gary Hardgrave, for promotion. Hardgrave clarified his promotional role and distanced himself from daily operations.