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Italian prosecutors seek Bank of China indictment over money laundering scheme

Prosecutors have requested the indictment of Bank of China's Milan branch for money laundering and tax evasion. Around 4.5 billion euros were smuggled from Italy to China under the state-owned bank's watch.

Prosecutors in Florence are seeking to prosecute 297 people and the Bank of China (BOC) for illicit financial activities, including money laundering and tax evasion.

Around 4.5 billion euros ($5 billion) were smuggled out of Italy to China from 2006 to 2010 though a money-transfer service called Money2Money, according to the Florentine prosecutors' request. The transfers were typically made in small quantities to fictitious names in China.

BOC, which supervised the M2M's activities, received more than 700,000 euros ($795,000) in commissions related to the wire transfers.

Investigators requested four senior managers at China's state-owned commercial bank branch in Milan also be indicted for failing to report suspicious activity, Reuters news agency reported.

More than 2 billion euros ($2.27 billion) were reported to have been processed by the Chinese bank.

The 170-page document submitted by Florentine prosecutors is expected to be reviewed by a judge, who will decide whether to file formal charges.

A large-scale investigation was launched in 2008 to combat growing influence of Chinese crime syndicates in Italy's Tuscany region.

The Chinese underground economy in Tuscany gained significant attention in 2013 after a garment factory caught fire, killing seven Chinese workers who lived on site. The Tuscan region has the highest concentration of Chinese immigrants in Italy.

ls/cmk (Reuters, AP)

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