Police have dropped charges against three of six accused money launderers after targeting $9 million dollars worth of assets in luxury cars and Remuera houses in a massive sting.
In late August, several properties in the Auckland suburbs of Remuera, East Tamaki Heights, Papatoetoe and Karaka were raided by police.
It was later revealed to be part of Operation Menelaus, an investigation targeting alleged third-party money launderers assisting organised criminals.
Three Remuera properties worth more than $7.3m were restrained by police, while at the homes, officers also found $250,000 in cash and said a further $727,000 in several bank accounts was frozen.
Luxury European vehicles including a $280,000 Bentley Bentayga, a $120,000 Mercedes GLS, a Porsche Cayenne and a Mercedes C-Class were also seized by police.
Six people were arrested on August 28 and accused of being linked to an alleged organised criminal group police said they had been watching since the start of the year.
Now, however, three of those charged are no longer being prosecuted, the Herald has learned.
One of those is a 42-year-old woman who faced nine charges.
She was accused of laundering about $6.17m through cash, property, home loans and deposits, bank accounts, and luxury vehicles.
The two others who saw the allegations against them withdrawn were a 36-year-old man and a now 34-year-old woman.
They each faced one money laundering charge.
After their arrests, all three quickly appeared in the Auckland District Court where they were granted name suppression and bail.
As part of their bail conditions they were ordered to surrender their passports and barred from entering any ANZ branch or any other financial institution to deposit cash or cheques.
They were also ordered not to conduct any electronic banking, apart from everyday personal transactions.
The Herald understands the trio returned to the Auckland District Court this week to collect their passports after their charges were withdrawn.
A police spokesperson confirmed the withdrawal of the charges against the accused three but said they were unable to comment further while court proceedings continued for those still charged as part of Operation Menelaus.
They include a 38-year-old man facing 22 charges, including 20 counts of money laundering, and a 35-year-old man.
He is charged with three counts of money laundering, two charges of attempting to import a class A and class B drug, and three firearms charges.
A 65-year-old woman, meanwhile, faces six charges of money laundering and a charge of structuring under the Anti-Money Laundering and Countering Financing of Terrorism Act (AML/CFT).
They are due to appear in court again later this year and in March.
Detective Senior Sergeant Wayne Gray, of the Financial Crime Group, earlier told the Herald the 65-year-old woman's AML/CFT charge was for allegedly structuring transactions.
She is accused of deliberately keeping transactions below a certain threshold to evade legal reporting requirements.
Police have said it is aiming to harass organised crime in New Zealand by seizing $500m in cash and assets by 2021 through the Criminal Proceeds Recovery Act.