[ROME] Italy's financial police on Wednesday arrested 18 people suspected of making illicit cash transfers totalling more than a billion euros, most of them to China through a British company.
The suspects are accused of having laundered profits from the import of counterfeit goods made in China through money-transfer agencies, defrauding the tax authorities in the process, the police said.
The suspects were described as mostly Rome-based ethnic Chinese who were known to police.
To move their alleged ill-gotten gains, the businessmen reportedly used British cash transfer company Sigue Global Services Ltd and took care to ensure the amounts of each transaction did not exceed levels which require a declaration to authorities under international money-laundering rules.
Sigue assets worth 13 million euros, equivalent to the company's profits on the transfers, have been frozen pending the outcome of the inquiry, police said.