A SENIOR judiciary official is under investigation by Hong Kong authorities for his links to a global money-laundering racket involving billions of dollars of Colombian cocaine proceeds. According to a British detective working on a related case, the official has been the focus of an 11-month investigation into his activities and possible underworld connections. 'They are looking at a person in the judiciary,' a British Metropolitan Police officer said of the probe, which is also examining a shelf company set up by the official. The case is being treated as highly sensitive, with only a select group of Hong Kong investigators aware of its existence. Police and Independent Commission Against Corruption sources in the territory said they were unaware of the investigations. Even the Chief Justice, Sir Ti Liang Yang, knew nothing of the investigation. 'This is news to me. I am not aware of any such individual of the judiciary being involved in anything like this,' he said. 'It is all hypothetical and I would not like to comment.' Sources suggested the exposure of a corrupt senior official could weaken the profile of the judiciary in the Government's dealings with China over the Court of Final Appeal. And legislators believed the potential scandal could not have come at a worse time. Emily Lau Wai-hing said: 'If it's true, it would be a real blow. With other institutions being savaged from all sides by the Chinese, people are holding on to the judiciary as a stable institution to uphold the rule of law.' Police are examining links between the civil servant and alleged money-launderer Gilbert Straub, who is accused of working for the powerful Colombian Cali cartel. Straub was arrested at Heathrow Airport on February 28 last year as part of a joint British-US operation. The Hong Kong investigation started shortly after, with the seizure of documents in Britain and evidence emerging of possible links between Straub and the official. Police discovered that a country mansion where Straub had stayed was owned by a company set up by the civil servant in Hong Kong. Straub apparently visited the mansion - worth at least $10 million - with the official's consent. It is not known whether the civil servant was also present. US and British investigators believe Straub has moved 'hundreds of millions' of dollars for cocaine tsars and invested the money in legitimate companies around the world. He is alleged to have set up businesses in the US, Britain, Panama and Russia, where he is involved in oil and gold operations, and to have laundered money through the Channel Islands and the Caribbean. A Metropolitan Police source said Straub was arrested after flying in from Panama. His son, Gilbert Jr, is still on the run from US officials. Straub senior, who faces a token drug trafficking conspiracy charge, has been held in London's Brixton Prison since last February, but was extradited to Florida last Friday morning.