Major investigation smashes web of money transactions
An investigation into the international money laundering of criminal assets worth around £215million has resulted in the arrest of seven people.
The PSNI's Economic Crime Unit made the arrests after carrying out 15 searches across Northern Ireland on Monday and Tuesday.
The investigation targeted individuals suspected of high-end money laundering through bank accounts in the UK and internationally.
Such was the scale of the investigation the PSNI liaised with the Garda Economic Crime Bureau, the Criminal Assets Bureau, the National Crime Agency, United Kingdom Financial Investigation Unit and HMRC.
Detective Chief Inspector Ian Wilson said: “We believe today’s operation is one of the most significant live investigations into money laundering in the UK.
“During our extensive investigation we identified that a significant volume of suspected criminal cash was being laundered out of the country through a number of shell companies and bank accounts held here in Northern Ireland.
"The investigation has identified over 50 companies and over 140 bank accounts
“In total, almost £215m has been deposited to thousands of bank accounts across the UK and also transferred out of the UK through foreign exchange companies since 2011.
“Money laundering is often a critical enabler of organised criminality. We believe that the majority of this money is derived from a range of criminal activity carried out by organised crime gangs.
“We are committed to keeping people safe by robustly pursuing those who are involved in laundering criminally derived money and enabling criminals to access the profits gained from their involvement in a range of illegal activities."
Six men aged 33, 37, 39, 40, 50, 67 and a 32-year-old woman were arrested during the two-day operation.
The men aged 50 and 67 plus the woman remain in police custody and are being questioned by detectives.
The four other men have been released on police bail.
Eight searches were carried out on Monday in Banbridge, Newry, Omagh and seven further searches were carried out in Belfast, Banbridge, Newry and Ballymena on Tuesday.