Police in Alberta and B.C. have arrested seven individuals who allegedly formed a multimillion-dollar, nationwide money laundering ring tied to real estate in Vancouver, Calgary and Toronto.
The Alberta Law Enforcement Response Team (ALERT) and RCMP Federal Serious and Organized Crime (FSOC) say the group formed a criminal professional money laundering organization for “some of Canada’s largest criminal organizations” and drug traffickers.
The ring was moving money between B.C., Alberta and Ontario and investing in real estate, said ALERT, a group of Alberta municipal police services and RCMP that conducts financial crime investigations targeting organized crime.
The investigation dubbed Project Collector began in July 2018 when Calgary police intercepted $1 million in cash destined for Vancouver.
ALERT says seven suspects have been charged, with arrests taking place in Calgary and Vancouver.
“In addition, more than $16 million in bank accounts, real estate holdings, and vehicles have been placed under criminal restraint.
“In a one-year period alone investigators identified the transfer of $24 million in cash, while the group’s money laundering activities date back to at least 2013,” noted ALERT.
“Project Collector revealed that the group operated pseudo-bank branches at either side of the country, which while holding large cash reserves, allowed organized crime groups utilizing its service to transfer funds while avoiding the detection of financial banking institutions and authorities. The money laundering was primarily connected back to drug trafficking proceeds.”
Those arrested are: Lien Ha, 42, from Calgary; Donald Hoang, 26, from Vancouver; Van Duc Hoang, 64, from Vancouver; Van Thi Nguyen, 62, from Vancouver; Cynthia Nguyen, 42, from Calgary; Yuong Nguyen, 43, from Calgary; and Grace Tang, a 25-year-old from Vancouver.
A total of 10 Vancouver, Calgary and Toronto area homes were subject to search warrants.
Charges include participating in a criminal organization, laundering proceeds of crime, and trafficking property obtained by crime. Charges were also laid under the Proceeds of Crime (Money Laundering) and Terrorist Financing Act.
ALERT said Project Collector relied on the assistance of a number of police agencies and specialized units, including: Calgary Police Service, Canada Revenue Agency, Financial Transactions and Reports Analysis Centre of Canada, Forensic Accounting Management Group, Vancouver Police, Toronto Police, Edmonton Police, Halton Police, Seized Property Management Directorate, and RCMP units in Ontario and British Columbia.