Seven Arrests In £215m Laundering Probe

Around £215 million has been seized in the largest ever money laundering search and arrest operation in Northern Ireland.

Seven people were arrested during Operation Shambala, which stretched across three counties on Monday 20 and Tuesday 21 January.

It follows a multi-agency probe that uncovered a significant volume of suspected criminal cash, believed to be originating from organised crime gangs, being laundered out of the country through shell companies and bank accounts held locally.

Some 50 companies and 140 bank accounts have been identified as part of the investigation.

A total of fifteen properties were searched, eight in Banbridge, Newry and Omagh on Monday and a further seven in Belfast, Banbridge, Newry and Ballymena on Tuesday.

Six men and a 32 year-old woman were arrested during the two days of raids. The male suspects are aged 33, 37, 39, 40, 50, 67.

The 32 year-old woman remains in police custody for questioning along with the men aged 50 and 67. Four others have been released on police bail.
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The PSNI's Economic Crime Unit drafted in assistance from other organisations to carry out the multi-agency operation, including the Garda Economic Crime Bureau, Criminal Assets Bureau, National Crime Agency, United Kingdom Financial Investigation Unit and Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs.

Detective Chief Inspector Ian Wilson said the operation is one of the most significant live investigations into money laundering in the UK.

"In total, almost £215 million has been deposited to thousands of bank accounts across the UK and also transferred out of the UK through foreign exchange companies since 2011," DCI Wilson said.

"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."

The PSNI is also working with EuroPol and Interpol and other money laundering experts.

Anyone with information on organised crime or money laundering activities is advised to pass this on to police via non-emergency line 101 or through independent charity Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.


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