Saturday, October 04, 2008

Vietnam police crack first money laundering case

Hanoi - Police in Vietnam have arrested two African suspects and are searching for a third in what one senior police officer Friday called the country's first international money laundering case. "This is the first international money laundering case ever found in Vietnam," said Senior Lieutenant Colonel Duong Canh Mai, a senior police officer in the central Vietnamese city of Danang. Mai said police had confiscated 4.1 billion dong (250,000 dollars).

Police said a Danang branch of a commercial bank alerted them to Baggio Carlitos Linska, 37, a Mozambican man who opened two accounts simultaneously. Shortly after the accounts were activated, more than 4.1 billion dong were transferred to them, which Linska immediately withdrew.

Police arrested Linska at Tan Son Nhat airport in Ho Chi Minh City on September 24 as he was preparing to leave Vietnam.

Police said Linska declared the money had been transferred by Massamba Lendebe Elvis, also of Mozambique, who had entered Vietnam with him. Elvis was arrested shortly afterwards in the southern port city of Vung Tau.

According to police, Elvis said he traveled to Vung Tau to open bank accounts in order to receive over 290,000 British pounds stolen by accomplices abroad.

After receiving the money, he transferred 4.1 billion to Linska's account and 3.3 billion dong to Niaty Lokasso Djamaba, a Congolese citizen in Ho Chi Minh City. Police have not yet detained Niaty and do not know where his money is hidden.

The Anti-Money Laundering Information Center of the State Bank of Vietnam opened in March 2007 and has since investigated 20 suspicious transactions. This is the first investigation that resulted in successful arrests.

According to Vietnamese law, using banks to launder money obtained by committing a crime is subject to between three and 15 years of imprisonment, as well as confiscation of laundered property and payment of triple damages.