TODAY |

Man forfeits more than $70 million in cash, property linked to pyramid scheme

Police have been forfeited more than $70 million consisting of cash and an Auckland property linked to multi-national pyramid scheme. 

Source: istock.com

Detective Inspector Craig Hamilton described the "forfeiture" as the largest ever in the country's history.

He said the High Court had approved a settlement between police and businessman Edward Gong.

Hamilton explained police first restrained the money in March 2017 after an investigation into suspicious funds deposited into New Zealand bank accounts between 2009 and 2016.

The funds were profits from a pyramid scheme based in China and Canada.

Gong is based in Canada and the money was transferred to New Zealand to conceal its source, Hamilton said.

“This settlement is a fantastic result and we thank both the Chinese and Canadian authorities for their assistance in bringing this matter to a successful conclusion," Hamilton said.

The Criminal Proceeds (Recovery) Act 2009 allows Police to restrain and forfeit assets acquired or derived from the proceeds of crime.

The forfeited property includes more than $68 million in cash and a property in East Tamaki Heights.

"This is the largest forfeiture of proceeds of crime ever secured in New Zealand and it reflects the expertise of New Zealand Police when investigating complex multi-jurisdictional money laundering at the most serious level," Hamilton said.

"New Zealand will never be a safe haven for proceeds of crime.

"We are committed to making our country the hardest place for criminals to do business, and we will not tolerate those who operate in other parts of the world hiding their illicit proceeds here. 

"This outcome sends a simple message to criminals around the world — send your dirty money to New Zealand and you will lose it."

Police encourage the reporting of suspicious financial activities, including information about those acquiring property or living a lifestyle inconsistent with their means.

Anyone with information is urged to contact Police on 105, or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.