A woman who worked at a money remittance company on Queen St has been discharged without conviction after laundering dirty cash for an international crime syndicate.

Qiannan (Christina) Tang was charged in connection to the larger organised crime scheme and went to trial in June this year.

The jury found her guilty of one charge of money laundering but also acquitted her on a remaining eight money laundering counts.

An initial trial for the 26-year-old, who has a masters degree in management, was aborted last year.


Today, at Tang's sentencing in the High Court at Auckland, her lawyer Graeme Newell sought a discharge without conviction for his client.

Justice Tracey Walker agreed and said the adverse consequences of a conviction were "out of all proportion" with the gravity of her offending.

"The impact would be devastating to you and your son," she said.

If she was convicted, Tang faced deportation to China and separation from her 4-year-old child.

In an affidavit from Tang she said: "I accept the jury's verdict, I should have been more careful. I was trying to impress my employer with my sales results."

Justice Walker said Tang was "well educated and well qualified" and hoped she would "learn from this experience and never again put yourself at risk of offending".

Tang was a smaller cog in a wider drug and organised crime conspiracy - which involved at least 10 people - and stretched from New Zealand to Germany, eastern Europe, Ecuador and Venezuela.

While working at money remittance company MCM, she was accused of sending dirty cash overseas for the group.


The sole charge she was found guilty of was for the receipt of $54,000 in cocaine sales, which she then converted and sent overseas to a Polish father and son.

Last summer, the Herald revealed extensive details of the nearly two-year police investigation into the drug plot, which was code-named Operation Moa.

Russian sailor Aleksandr Cherushev's whereabouts is unknown. Photo / Supplied
Russian sailor Aleksandr Cherushev's whereabouts is unknown. Photo / Supplied

Court documents showed it involved a mystery West African man, who was the alleged mastermind of the operation, and a Russian sailor, who imported $1.2 million worth of cocaine into New Zealand onboard a food vessel in 2016.

Operation Moa included police phone taps and covert surveillance teams, hundreds of thousands of dollars in cash, and international money transfers.

It also included a treasure map to $130,000 of buried cash at Auckland's Bastion Point.

One of the members of the plot, police allege, was Polish man Patryk Lukasik.


He fled New Zealand in 2016 but was later arrested in Germany, with authorities there since approving his extradition back here.

The 42-year-old now faces trial in Auckland next year over money laundering and drug importation charges and is due to appear in court again next month.

Lukasik was allegedly the point of contact for father and son and fellow Poles Ryszard Wilk, 57, and Ralph Wilk, 30.

Ralph Wilk was jailed for nearly a decade and will be deported upon his release. Photo / Sam Hurley
Ralph Wilk was jailed for nearly a decade and will be deported upon his release. Photo / Sam Hurley

The Wilks arrived in New Zealand in 2016, telling immigration officials they were here for a holiday.

Ryszard Wilk left New Zealand but was later arrested in the Venezuelan city of Maiquetía after an Interpol red notice was issued for him.

The New Zealand Police and Government are working with their Venezuelan counterparts to return him to Auckland to face trial, the Herald understands.


Court documents show Ryszard Wilk faces several charges for drug importation, drug supply, money laundering and conspiracy if extradited.

Ralph Wilk, however, remained in New Zealand and was arrested in 2017.

He was due to go to trial in September last year alongside local builder and "bag man" Bryan Williams and Auckland IT engineer Mohammed Khan, who also helped launder money.

But all three pleaded guilty on the eve of their trial.

Ralph Wilk was later sentenced to eight years and five months' imprisonment on two representative charges for supplying a Class A drug and money laundering, while Williams and Khan were sentenced to home detention.

Russian sailor Aleksandr Cherushev and another man Simon Kenmuir, meanwhile, have been unable to be located by New Zealand authorities or Interpol.