Sun, Aug 06, 2017 - Page 7 News List

How China’s biggest bank became ensnared in a sprawling money laundering probe

ICBC, at the direction of the Chinese Communist Party, is a flagship in China’s quest to become a global banking giant. However, an investigation into money laundering has led to diplomatic complications

By Angus Berwick and David Lague  /  Reuters, MADRID

Many of the importers only declared a fraction of the value of each container, knowing that tax and customs people could not possibly inspect all the containers arriving in Europe, a senior Spanish tax official said.

However, once the importers sold the undeclared goods, they needed to hide the proceeds from the Spanish tax authorities.

So, the Spanish tax official alleges, the trader networks became crime gangs as they systematically engaged in tax evasion, smuggling and money laundering to hide their funds and get them out of the country to China.

The transcripts of bugged conversations are explicit about smuggling.

In one telephone call, Zhou Jianjun, a man police suspect to be a leader of a money-laundering network in Spain, discusses illicit merchandise-trading with an associate named in the court filings as a suspected crime boss in China.

“If Colombia is known for drugs, African countries for conflict, well, China is known for smuggling,” Zhou said.

Zhou was arrested in October 2012 and later released on bail. His lawyer said her client did not want to talk to reporters about the case.

Additional reporting by Giselda Vagnoni

This is part one of a two-part series. Part two will appear in tomorrow’s edition.

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