AFP seizes $160 million in assets from laundering ring

More than $160 million worth of assets has been seized from an alleged money laundering syndicate that operated through currency exchange outlets across Australia.

The Australian Federal Police on Tuesday revealed they had seized additional homes in Victoria and Queensland as they continue investigating the syndicate behind the Changjiang Currency Exchange.

The AFP-led Operation Avarus-Nightwolf in October charged seven people from the Long River syndicate who are accused of being involved in laundering almost $229 million in illegal funds in the past three years.

cash seized by the AFP
Avarus-Nightwolf is the most complex AFP-led money laundering investigation in the nation's history.

The joint agency's operation had seized $50 million in assets in October and has since uncovered an additional $110 million in assets from unlawful activity, including bank accounts and luxury items.

The probe was in part triggered by investigators noticing that the exchange chain opened and updated outlets in Sydney during the COVID-19 lockdowns.

AFP Criminal Assets Confiscation Taskforce (CACT) head Stefan Jerga said Operation Avarus-Nightwolf was the most complex AFP-led money laundering investigation in the nation's history.

The taskforce includes the AFP, the Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission, the Australian Taxation Office, AUSTRAC and Australian Border Force. 

A Rolex watch seized by the AFP
The AFP says it will continue to relentlessly target criminal wealth.

The AFP aimed to deprive criminals of their illegal wealth and stop them using the proceeds of crime to bankroll further criminal activity, he said.

It's estimated the criminal economy costs Australia about $60 billion per year. 

"The criminal economy is a multi-billion dollar economy and the CACT, as well as our partners, will continue to relentlessly target criminal wealth," Mr Jerga said at a media conference in Sydney.

About 70 per cent of the high-value targets the AFP focused on were offshore.

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