Belfast Student Bank Accounts Used In £16m Laundering Operation, Court Hears

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Dormant student bank accounts opened in Belfast were used as part of an alleged £16million money laundering operation, the High Court heard.

Prosecutors claimed a Chinese crime gang took them over after compatriots studying in the city had completed degree courses and returned home.

Details emerged as bail was granted to two women accused of involvement in depositing bundles of cash to be spread across the UK.

Ling Ling Zheng, 34, of Vernon Street, and 38-year-old Yun Chen, from Ulsterville Avenue – both in Belfast – were among 11 people arrested last week following a major police investigation.

They both face charges of possessing and transferring criminal property, along with conspiracy to conceal, remove and convert criminal property.

The alleged racket involved up to 8,000 transactions on 22 separate customer accounts at a city centre branch of an undisclosed bank between January 2018 and May 2019.

According to detectives lodgments were made through an ATM system on a daily basis for hours at a time, with details entered for the money to be forwarded on to 3,500 other accounts.

Crown lawyer Kate McKay said some of the customer accounts were Chinese students who had left them dormant after going back home to continue their careers.

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