HONG KONG'S top triads, including the ruling family of the powerful Sun Yee On, are planning to leave the territory to escape the sweeping powers of the Organised and Serious Crimes Bill, according to police intelligence reports. A vast amount of cash has been, or is about to be, transferred to China to escape the new bill which is due to be passed in full later this month. It will give police greater powers to fight organised crime by requiring witnesses to testify or face prosecution themselves. And it will make money laundering an indictable offence. The courts, which have to grant approval for the use of the law's powers in every instance, will be able to impose increased sentences. And they will have the power to confiscate the proceeds of crime. According to one detective, the Organised Crime and Triad Bureau (OCTB), which is spearheading the force's investigations, has been looking for triad members they could now target ever since two parts of the bill were approved last October 12. The officer, who did not want to be named, said a number of senior officials in the Sun Yee On, which had up to 50,000 members on its books, had already been identified by police. Another senior OCTB officer, Superintendent Xavier Tang Kam-moon, refused to say which underworld figures had left Hong Kong. 'We will be putting the law into good use but I don't expect to see a flood of cases,' Mr Tang said. But the detective did say he would not 'be too surprised if some of them want to move their assets out of the territory'. He added: 'The law has been with Legco for over two years and had substantial publicity when it was [partly] passed last year. 'The criminal fraternity would be interested in any law that would affect their assets and would increase the powers of the police and how the police are going to work.' Much of the Sun Yee On money has been put into property, businesses and entertainment ventures in Shenzhen, Guangzhou, Shanghai and Beijing, and is viewed by mainland officials as 'legitimate' investment. And the Wo Hop To society is developing a cross-border gambling and book-making organisation in which wagers are placed in Hong Kong and telephoned through to an illegal betting centre in Shenzhen. Most of the other 50 active triad groups in Hong Kong, including the 40-odd factions of the 14K, also have links in southern China although they are not believed to be as well established. However, all of the major societies are understood to have had some kind of contact with mainland officials. According to police, the hierarchy of the Sun Yee On, formed around a family of 10 brothers and an Inner Council of senior office bearers, has made billions of dollars from its activities. 'This was always on the cards. That is why the Sun Yee On met years ago with the PSB (Public Security Bureau),' said another experienced anti-triad officer. That secret meeting was held in a Hong Kong hotel in the early 1990s between Sun Yee On office bearers and PSB officials, and an understanding was said to have been reached between the two sides. Following that meeting, China's Minister of Public Security, Tao Siju, stated his support for 'patriotic' triads on at least two occasions. In 1992, a confidential OCTB report claimed the links between the mainland's security forces and the triads were initiated by China for monetary gain.