1. ITV Report

Seven arrests in £215m money laundering operation

Seven people have been arrested as part of what police have described as the largest investigation into money laundering in Northern Ireland.

Detectives said the operation focused on the international money laundering of criminal assets worth £215m.

“We believe today’s operation is one of the most significant live investigations into money laundering in the UK,” a PSNI spokesperson said.

Fifteen properties across Banbridge, Newry and Omagh, Belfast and Ballymena have been searched over the past two days.

Six men and one woman were arrested. Four of the men were later released on bail, while two aged 50 and 67, and the 32-year-old woman, continue to be questioned.

The PSNI said the operation was carried out in liaison with a number of authorities, including the Garda Economic Crime Bureau, the National Crime Agency, and HMRC.

“During our extensive investigation we identified that a significant volume of suspected criminal cash was being laundered out of the country through a number of shell companies and bank accounts held here in Northern Ireland,” the spokesperson went on.

“The investigation has identified over 50 companies and over 140 bank accounts

“In total, almost £215m has been deposited to thousands of bank accounts across the UK and also transferred out of the UK through foreign exchange companies since 2011.”

They added: “Money laundering is often a critical enabler of organised criminality.

“We believe that the majority of this money is derived from a range of criminal activity carried out by organised crime gangs.

“We are committed to keeping people safe by robustly pursuing those who are involved in laundering criminally derived money and enabling criminals to access the profits gained from their involvement in a range of illegal activities.”

Anyone with information has been asked to come forward.