Police in Taiwan have arrested a man for allegedly running a massive money laundering scheme in the country. If it weren’t for his multiple gambling trips abroad, the authorities may have never uncovered the multimillion-dollar operation.
A police officer in Taiwan on a motorcycle. Police have arrested a man who ran a multimillion-dollar money laundering scheme. (Image: Flickr)
Local media outlet United Daily News reports that the Electronic Investigation Team (EIT) of Taiwan’s Criminal Bureau began investigating a man they only identified as “Qui” last year. The investigators placed him as the alleged mastermind behind the movement of $320 million through the cryptocurrency stablecoin Tether (USDT).
Qui was apparently a simple merchant on the outside. However, behind the scenes, he was allegedly running a massive criminal operation that spanned Southeast Asia, including Malaysia, the Philippines and Hong Kong.
Untangling the Web
The beginning of the end was when the EIT began taking a closer look at Taishin Securities, a financial products firm in Taiwan. The investigators became suspicious after uncovering pirated software that led to the company.
The money trail eventually pointed the authorities in the direction of Qui. When they began looking at his day-to-day, they uncovered trips and other activities that raised their suspicions even more.
He was making regular journeys overseas, specifically to meet with others in unspecified legal and illegal casinos. These trips revealed contact with individuals the authorities had already identified as being possibly involved in criminal activity.
Qui had crafted an intricate plan for his activity. Multiple bogus accounts served as conduits to divert the funds until they ultimately ended up with Qiu. During the course of this operation, the funds underwent a transformation into cryptocurrencies, effectively masking their initial source and facilitating the subsequent monetary transactions.
Since February of last year, the police are confident they can tie him to the movement of 320 million Tether through cryptocurrency wallets he controls. Since the stablecoin’s value is pegged to the US dollar, one coin is worth roughly $1, although it can fluctuate slightly.
Qiu applied a commission of 1% on each money laundering transaction that he managed. That puts his commission on the USDT figure at $3.2 million, although there’s a chance he had been responsible for much more prior to his arrest.
Dropping the Net
The prosecutor’s office sprang into action as they accumulated evidence. They arrested Qiu on June 13 of this year after returning to Taiwan via the Taoyuan Airport.
In the course of the inquiry, the authorities took possession of Qiu’s cell phone, which reportedly served as a complete encyclopedia of his activity. Additionally, the police confiscated other possessions, including a Lamborghini URUS SUV and a Lexus LM minivan.
The seized items extended to three Apple Watches, CNY210,000 (US$28,686) in cash, multiple computers, debit cards and an assortment of illicit substances.
The bust signals the establishment of an unprecedented benchmark for the electronic investigation team’s crackdown on illicit funds. It also marked the biggest money-laundering scandal to hit Taiwan, according to local authorities.
The police also arrested several others for their involvement in the organization, although their identities are as obscured as Qui’s. Following a comprehensive inquiry conducted by law enforcement authorities, these three were identified as active participants in the fraudulent activity.
All face prison sentences of up to seven years and fines of as much as TWD1 million (US$30,770), according to Taiwan’s Money Laundering Control Act. Their date with a court judge is still pending.
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