The Australian financial institutions laundered £281 million for Latin American cocaine cartels according to a new report.

The Australian Financial Review says that the money laundering operation spanned across several continents. The hard drugs were obtained from South America and North America is where the drugs were sold. South-east Asia is where the proceeds from the drug sales were received, in separate bank accounts.

In Australia, the cash was layered through separate bank accounts before the trade-based money laundering operation phase popped off.

The report reveals that every year between 2014 & 2017, over £56 million passed through the Australian banks. Once in Australia, the money was then used to buy electronic items such as gaming consoles, smart devices, laptops, digital cameras & other electronic gadgets. All these were purchased within 3 years.

These high-end electronic items were then sent abroad for sale with the intent of putting the proceeds into the financial system as legitimate money to avoid suspicion.

The report also states out that the money laundering and operation scheme came to light after mis-invoicing of trades was detected.

“The criminal network was discovered when law enforcement bodies noticed the valuations on the invoices being used by the exporters and importers did not match.”

According to the Australia Border Force ABF, 9 unidentified Australian financial institutions who were involved in the money-laundering web did not know about the activities happening within.

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