Benson Tsoi, instructed by Withers, secured acquittals for both his own client and an absent co-defendant (tried in absentia) charged with a wide conspiracy to commit money laundering with 7 other individuals – involving USD 40 million by using a network of 5 off-shore companies, 6 Hong Kong bank accounts, 13 Taiwan bank accounts and hundreds of transactions in different jurisdictions (including USA, UK, Australia, New Zealand, Malaysia, Nigeria, Taiwan and the Mainland) – to launder proceeds of international fraud – in the guise of international shipping and import and export trading.
Benson’s client in this case was extradited from Peru to Hong Kong under the United Nations Convention Against Corruption in 2021 for money laundering that occurred between 2005 and 2008. The co-defendant was still at large during the trial.
The case concerned alleged proceeds of fraud from an international scam and monies that were paid by hundreds of victims (“uniquely named parties”) from all over the world to bank accounts that were held or controlled by the Defendants through offshore companies registered in Belize, Samoa or the British Virgin Islands and ultimately to bank accounts in Taiwan. The Prosecution relied on expert forensic accountant’s evidence to support the allegation that these were proceeds of crime transferred to the subject accounts, in the guise of payments made for legitimate international import and export trading. The Defence argued that the monies represented proceeds of import and export trading which took place in Nigeria with remittance agents being used to exchange those proceeds from Naira into USD through various uniquely named parties.
After a lengthy trial the Court accepted the Defence argument that the Prosecution has not established its case on conspiracy to the requisite standard and that “it simply makes no sense for a company to turn its legitimate revenue into proceeds of a worldwide fraud” and that if such revenue was legitimate “it would not have become proceeds of crime even if it was transferred out of Nigeria by illegal means.” Both defendants were accordingly acquitted.
The Reasons for Verdict can be found here.