Italian prosecutors are seeking for the Bank of China’s Milan branch along with 297 people, most of whom are Chinese migrants, to be tried in connection with a €4.5 billion money-laundering investigation. The massive amount of money, which was transferred from Italy to China, was earned through counterfeiting, prostitution, tax evasion and labour exploitation.
According to the Associated Press:
The investigation, dubbed “River of Money”, began in 2008 and focused on money transferred to China — funds Florence prosecutors say come from exploiting illegal labour, counterfeiting money and tax evasion, according to Italian media reports.
Those under investigation are accused of using the Money2Money (M2M) transfer service to shift money from several Italian cities, with the Bank of China receiving over 750,000 euros ($850,000) in commissions, the reports say.
The daily La Repubblica said that between 2006 and 2010 over 4.5 billion euros ($5.1 billion) was smuggled to China, with 2.2 billion euros going via the Bank of China’s (BOC) Milan branch.
Denouncing it as an “awe-inspiring hemorrhage of money to China while Italian businesses were dying, torn apart by Chinese competition”, the daily said 287 Chinese citizens in Italy were being probed, along with four bank officials.
A judge will now decide whether the case will go to trial.
The bank said today that it would cooperate fully with Italian authorities, although it hadn’t yet received any formal documents from prosecutors in relation to the investigation.
“The bank will closely follow the development of the relevant legal proceedings and provide timely disclosure in accordance with the relevant laws and regulations,” the bank was cited as saying in a Reuters report.
“In respect of anti-money laundering, the bank constantly improves its anti-money laundering management and control system, actively fulfils its anti-money laundering duties and obligations.”
This is not the first time Bank of China has been caught up in a money laundering scandal. Last year, CCTV accused the bank of helping wealthy mainlanders move large sums of money overseas.
[Image via Liberty Times Net]
By Joyce Ng