Chinese manufacturers of amphetamine-type stimulants are using trade-based money laundering (TBML) extensively to conceal drugs proceeds from the Australian state of New South Wales (NSW) according the NSW Crime Commission.

In its annual report, the commission said that organised crime is worse than ever, and admits that Chinese drugs barons employing TBML methods are beyond its reach.

Sophisticated TBML

Organised crime groups and professional money launders are using informal remittance providers, digital currencies and bulk cash smuggling to launder illegally gained money. But they are also turning to what the commission describes as sophisticated TBML techniques to move cash.

China is regarded as a source supply country for the manufacture of amphetamine-type stimulants and is Australia’s largest legitimate trade partner. This provides what the report describes as substantial opportunities for organised crime to engage in TBML.

Counting the cost

The commission admits it is difficult to detect TBML while the approximate value of funds being transferred to China, allegedly or likely derived by organised crime activity, is almost impossible to assess.

The commission nevertheless reckons it is safe to say that these illicit fund flows can be measured in the hundreds of millions of Australian dollars (A$) and probably in excess of A$1 billion (US$750 million).

Figures reported by the Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission indicate that, taking account of all types of money laundering, “many billions of dollars” of funds are generated annually through the sale of prohibited drugs.