New Zealand Police has restrained a significant amount of cryptocurrency and other funds following an investigation by Police's Waikato/Bay of Plenty Asset Recovery Unit.
In 2016 police were alerted by the Inland Revenue Service in the United States to a website operated by a man based in New Zealand which was allegedly distributing a large number of copyrighted films, and laundering the proceeds.
The man and his associates were reportedly using online international money transfer services to send remittances between the USA, Canada, New Zealand and Vietnam.
An investigation commenced and in June and July of 2019, police restrained $6.2 million in cryptocurrency and $800,000 in banked funds from the man allegedly involved, under the Criminal Proceeds (Recovery) Act.
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In November a further $472,000 in cryptocurrency and $377,000 in banked funds were seized from an associate.
"New Zealand works closely with international law enforcement agencies to strengthen New Zealand's anti-money laundering approach," assistant commissioner of investigations, serious and organised crime Richard Chambers said.
"This outcome reflects the importance of these international partnerships and it also demonstrates the capability of our investigators to prevent and respond to cyber-crime and money laundering, which are often unbounded by geography."
Detective Senior Sergeant Keith Kay of the asset recovery unit said New Zealand Police was committed to ensuring people in New Zealand were held to account so they do not benefit from the proceeds of crime, regardless of where in the world the crime is committed.
"Introducing illicitly-obtained funds into New Zealand constitutes money laundering and Police will thoroughly investigate and restrain the assets of those who undertake such activity."
Crimes that make money generally hurt people and police are seeking help from the community to identify illicit proceeds obtained from crime.
If anyone has any information which would assist police with the recovery of criminal proceeds they are encouraged to report that information in confidence either to their local police station, or via Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.