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Chinese Police Arrest Gang Who Laundered $1.7 Billion Through Cryptocurrency

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Chinese police have arrested 63 people accused of laundering up to 12 billion Chinese yuan ($1.7 billion) through cryptocurrency, amid Beijing’s intense crackdown on digital coin trading.

As of May 2021, the criminal gang allegedly took proceeds from illicit sources including pyramid schemes, frauds and gambling and converted them into cryptocurrency tether, a stablecoin which is pegged one-to-one with the American dollarsthe public security bureau of Tongliao city in northern China’s Inner Mongolia said in a statement over the weekend.

The gang allegedly used different cryptocurrency trading accounts to convert the money back into Chinese yuan.

They used the Telegram messaging service, which is blocked in China, to recruit various people across the country who would open crypto accounts to help launder the funds, police said. These people would receive a commission based on the amount of money they laundered, police added.

Authorities said more than 130 million Chinese yuan worth of proceeds were confiscated from the gang.

The case highlights that even after Beijing’s attempts to eliminate cryptocurrency-related activities, including trading and mining, there is still a large amount of digital currency activity going on.

Chinese users have generally turned to overseas-based exchanges to trade cryptocurrencies, but this has become more difficult as a crackdown by authorities intensified over the past year.

The Public Security Bureau was alerted when they noticed that one of the suspects had a monthly transaction volume of 10 million yuan in his bank account. Authorities said two of the suspects fled to Bangkok, Thailand, but were persuaded to return to China. Police did not say what that entailed.

Last year, Chinese police arrested more than 1,100 people suspected of money laundering through cryptocurrencies.

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