A mainland man has been jailed for ten and a half years for laundering HK$13.1 billion – the largest amount of its kind in Hong Kong – over a period of eight months.
Madam Justice Esther Toh Lye-ping said it was the most serious crime of its kind that she had ever seen in a Hong Kong court.
Luo Juncheng, 22, was convicted on Tuesday by the jury at the Court of First Instance after he earlier pleaded not guilty to one count of dealing with property known or reasonably believed to represent proceeds of an indictable offence.
The court earlier heard that the laundering took place between August 2009 and April 2010, with most of the funds being funnelled in and out via internet transfers.
Luo, from Guangdong, made 4,800 deposits and 3,500 transfers out of a Chiyu Bank account, prosecutor Thomas Iu earlier told the court.
On July 30, 2009, Luo bought a company called Ace Creation Development from a secretarial company in Hong Kong.
On August 3, Luo came to Hong Kong as a visitor to set up a bank account with Chiyu Bank in the name of the company. Ten days later, he came to Hong Kong again, to set up a personal bank account with the same bank.
Toh agreed Luo, as said by defence counsel Joseph Tse Wah-yuan SC in mitigation, was not the mastermind of the crime, his role was more than somebody who opened an account and surrendered it to others.
She said during the eight months, Luo on one occasion transferred HK$2.6 million from his personal account to the company account.
The judge said international elements, which were an aggravating factor, were involved in the case, as some of the proceeds had originated in mainland China and Macau.
She reiterated that the only mitigation that criminals in money laundering cases could have was to co-operate with the authority to bring the masterminds to court.
Outside the court, Gloria Yu Yin-ching, superintendent of the Narcotics Bureau’s financial investigation, said the amount of money involved was the largest of any money laundering case in the city.
She said that people should not lend the bank accounts they opened to other people. “Everyone has legal responsibilities to know where the money in his or her account is from,” she said.