Five arrested in major money laundering case

Five arrested in major money laundering case
Credit: Pxhere

Searches conducted last week in Antwerp, Brasschaat, Stabroek, Vorst and Knokke-Heist as part of a major money laundering investigation led to the arrest of five suspects, the Antwerp public prosecutor’s office said on Wednesday.

Rolex watches, €700,000 in cash, weapons and ten vehicles were also seized.

The illegal assets obtained through money laundering were estimated at €9.5 million.

The investigations began in 2020 when police obtained information that a 46-year-old Belgian man was laundering very large sums of money from, among other things, the import of cocaine. To do this, the man used several companies that belonged to him and a network of several people.

According to the public prosecutor’s office, the man also rendered services to criminal organisations that sought to extract consignments of cocaine from containers in the port of Antwerp.

He is also suspected of laundering funds from multinational oil companies, with the help of accomplices, through a system of false contracts and invoices. The money was transferred to his own companies, as well as to accounts in the United Arab Emirates and Bulgaria, then laundered through the purchase and sale of luxury watches.

“Data from the cracking of the Sky ECC messaging system provided additional information on this major money laundering network,” said Kristof Aerts, spokesman for the public prosecutor’s office.

In addition to the searches in Belgium, similar operations were carried out in Switzerland and the UK at the request of the Belgian authorities.

As a result of the searches, five men aged between 33 and 51 were presented to a Belgian investigating judge on charges of money laundering, forgery and criminal organisation. One suspect was conditionally released. The other four were placed under an arrest warrant.

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