Accusations of money laundering from organized crime

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“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.” — ALERT’s Mike Tucker

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Several Vancouver residents have been charged and millions of dollars seized following a three-year investigation into an underground banking system that allegedly laundered the illicit cash of some of Canada’s biggest criminal organizations.

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Mike Tucker, of the Alberta Law Enforcement Response Team, said the accused — four from Vancouver and three from Calgary — are part of a family that ran “pseudo banks in Vancouver and in Ontario.”

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“It seems like they were pretty unique in offering this type of service, so they ended up having a lot of different affiliations with major drug trafficking groups in Vancouver and in Ontario,” Tucker told Postmedia.

He would not identify any specific drug gangs, nor the address of the underground bank’s Vancouver location.

The alleged leader of the money laundering network is Vancouver’s Van Duc Hoang, 64, who is accused of instructing others to commit offenses for the unnamed criminal organization as well as 11 other counts.

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2806 Cheyenne St., Vancouver, is owned by Van Duc Hoang, charged in a massive money laundering case.  This was a three-year financial crime investigation conducted jointly between ALERT Calgary's financial crime team and the RCMP Federal Serious and Organized Crime (FSOC).  The investigation began in Calgary and led to the dismantling of a nationwide criminal organization involving money laundering between Ontario, Alberta and British Columbia.
2806 Cheyenne St., Vancouver, is owned by Van Duc Hoang, charged in a massive money laundering case. This was a three-year financial crime investigation conducted jointly between ALERT Calgary’s financial crime team and the RCMP Federal Serious and Organized Crime (FSOC). The investigation began in Calgary and led to the dismantling of a nationwide criminal organization involving money laundering between Ontario, Alberta and British Columbia. jpg

Hoang’s East Vancouver home and two other properties he owns here are among several being held for potential forfeiture as part of the massive criminal investigation by ALERT and the RCMP’s federal Serious and Organized Crime Branch.

Hoang’s housemate Van Thi Nguyen, 62, and Vancouver residents Donald Hoang, 26, and Grace Tang, 25, are also said to be part of the money laundering crime ring, as are Calgary residents Cynthia Nguyen, 42, Yuong Nguyen, 43 , and Lien Ha, 42.

Tucker said more than $16 million in bank accounts, real estate holdings and vehicles have been placed under criminal restraint.

The case, called Project Collector, is similar to the ill-fated E-Pirate investigation in BC – where charges were laid and later stayed – against Jian Jun Zhu and his wife for running an underground bank called Silver International, where drug gangs laundered hundreds of millions in illegal cash. Zhu was shot and killed in Richmond in 2020.

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The accused “collector” was arrested in September. Search warrants were executed in Calgary, Vancouver and Metro Toronto.

“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,” Tucker said.

The investigation began in July 2018 after $1 million in cash destined for Vancouver was intercepted in Calgary, he said. ALERT and RCMP investigators then launched the extensive investigation, which relied heavily on intelligence from Canada’s Financial Transactions and Reports Analysis Centre.

No branch of the underground bank was actually discovered in Alberta.

RCMP Corporal Nicolas Laforge speaks to the media at a press conference announcing Project Collector, which saw the dismantling of a professional, transnational money laundering organization on Wednesday, November 23, 2022.
RCMP Corporal Nicolas Laforge speaks to the media at a press conference announcing Project Collector, which saw the dismantling of a professional, transnational money laundering organization on Wednesday, November 23, 2022. Dean Piling/Postmedia

“We think there was probably an Alberta component, but that was not revealed during the course of the investigation,” Tucker said.

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“Vancouver is a port of entry and therefore it is likely that the money from Ontario was used to pay suppliers in Vancouver.”

The alleged ringleader Hoang and his housemate Nguyen were stopped by Vancouver Police on March 1, 2020, after officers “observed the vehicle driving erratically in the 900 block of Kingsway,” according to a civil forfeiture lawsuit.

VPD questioned the 2016 Lexus with Alberta plates and determined it was owned by Nguyen’s daughter Cynthia, one of the accused in the current case. The lawsuit also said Cynthia Nguyen “had police database records relating to drug trafficking and proceeds of crime.”

“VPD observed a large reusable shipping bag behind the driver’s seat. The top of the bag was covered with a plastic shopping bag to hide its contents, the government’s lawsuit said.

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“Ms. Nguyen and Mr. Hoang denied knowledge or ownership of the bag,” in which police later found more than $117,000 in cash “bundled or packaged in a manner inconsistent with standard banking practices.”

Police called Cynthia Nguyen, who also denied ownership of the bag or the cash.

Neither Nguyen’s mother nor Hoang contested the civil forfeiture case, and the money was later turned over to the BC government.

kbolan@postmedia.com

Twitter.com/kbolan


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