Seven people have been arrested following an investigation into the international money laundering of criminal assets accumulating to approximately £215 million (€252m).
Officers from PSNI's Economic Crime Unit searched 15 properties across the North in what is the largest money laundering search and arrest operation in Northern Ireland.
Eight searches were carried out yesterday in Banbridge, Newry and Omagh and seven further searches were carried out in Belfast, Banbridge, Newry and Ballymena earlier today.
Six men aged 33, 37, 39, 40, 50, 67 and a 32-year-old woman were arrested during the two day operation.
"The men aged 50 and 67 plus the 32 year old woman remain in police custody and are being questioned by detectives", said Detective Chief Inspector Ian Wilson.
"The four men aged 33, 37, 39 and 40 have been released on police bail."
Det Chief Inspector Wilson said that the operation targeted individuals suspected of high end money laundering through bank accounts in the UK and internationally.
“We believe today’s operation is one of the most significant live investigations into money laundering in the UK," he said.
Seven arrested in £215million, largest money laundering search investigation in Northern Ireland - PSNI’s Detective Chief Inspector Ian Wilson explains more. pic.twitter.com/O5LVltaPuX— Police Service NI (@PoliceServiceNI) January 21, 2020
"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 investigation has identified over 50 companies and over 140 bank accounts
“In total, almost £215 million has been deposited to thousands of bank accounts across the UK and also transferred out of the UK through foreign exchange companies since 2011.
“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."
The complex operation involved PSNI liaison with Garda Economic Crime Bureau (ECB), Criminal Assets Bureau (CAB), National Crime Agency (NCA), United Kingdom Financial Investigation Unit (UKFIU) and Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC).
“International associations have been identified and PSNI are working with EuroPol and InterPol," said Det Chief Inspector Wilson.
"We are also being assisted by money laundering experts coordinated by the National Economic CRIME Centre (NECC)."