FEATURE: Underground bank linking Japan, H.K., China probed
SAITAMA, Japan, Sept. 18 Kyodo
Saitama prefectural police have been questioning a Chinese national to grasp a complete picture of illicit money flows from Japan to China.
The police arrested 37-year-old Guo Tingyun on Sept. 4 for allegedly illegally remitting more than 10 billion yen to China. The police believe that Guo was dispatched to Japan by one of several Chinese corporate groups that are suspected to be behind illicit money flows from Japan to Hong Kong and then on to China.
The arrest of Guo came two years after the police first began investigating the names of several Chinese who remitted money in units of 10 million yen to Hong Kong.
The police checked records of the bank accounts and corroborated their identities with photos on alien registration cards.
Investigators staked out several banks and finally confirmed that one of the men who remitted money to Hong Kong was Guo, according to the police.
They followed Guo and found that he spent days visiting financial institutions in Tokyo and speaking with people on a mobile phone, the police said.
In August this year, the investigators allegedly confirmed that Guo remitted money from a bank in Tokyo’s Musashino City, using a fictitious name. This led to his arrest.
The more than 10 bank accounts in Hong Kong to which Guo allegedly remitted money were also used in similar illegal money transfers uncovered by the Tokyo Metropolitan Police Department, Osaka prefectural police and other law enforcement authorities in the past, the police said.
Guo’s wife said in a deposition that ”the underground bank was opened at the request of (her) aunt in Fujian Province,” they said.
Investigators believe the alleged scheme worked in the following way. First, the police said, when Guo received a remittance request from his customers, such as illegal workers and a criminal group, he immediately made contact with an underground bank organization in Fujian in southeastern China. The organization then sent money to the family of the remitter within a day or two.
Meanwhile, Guo sent the money he received from the customer to an underground bank organization in Hong Kong after taking a 1% commission, the police said.
The money then flowed to the Hong Kong side of a corporate group operating in both Hong Kong and China and simultaneously, the same amount of money was transferred from the Chinese side of the corporate group to the underground bank organization in Fujian Province.
The flow of money has the same effect as the corporate group remitting the same amount of money from its group firm in China to its group firm in Hong Kong.
Corporations want to invest illegally earned profits in Hong Kong, where financial regulations are not strict. But remitting money through a legitimate channel means a high duty imposed by the Chinese authorities. Therefore, the alleged scheme is used to avoid this, said one of the investigators.
According to the police, a total of 11 cases of illegal remittance to China involving a total of 120 billion yen were uncovered during the period from 1992 to 2001.
Saitama prefectural police allegedly confiscated from Guo’s home a list of more than 1,000 Chinese names and their mobile phone numbers. The police have stepped up the investigation, suspecting that men working under Guo and members of robbery groups are among them.
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