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Australia seizes 3 properties from Chinese national

Sydney

THE Australian government has confiscated three properties from a Chinese national after a joint money-laundering investigation with China.

The Melbourne real estate was owned by a 32-year-old Chinese national who had been using an assumed name and had relocated to the Caribbean, the Australian Federal Police said on Saturday in a statement on their website.

A two-bedroom apartment, a five-bedroom house and a property that used to house a supermarket were collectively valued at A$4.2 million (S$4 million) and will be sold. The proceeds will be used for law enforcement initiatives, the police said.

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China's main policing agency, the Ministry of Public Security, asked for Australia's help in 2016 to identify two Chinese nationals whom Beijing said defrauded money from investors.

Police said the pair laundered the money by setting up shell companies to buy Australian real estate, jewellery and vehicles. The assets were frozen in November, and the Supreme Court of Victoria ordered the forfeiture of the three properties last Friday.

"June 8 marks six months since the first restraining order was obtained and, in the absence of proceedings commenced by the respondent, the assets were officially forfeited to the Commonwealth," the Australian Federal Police said.

It is the first forfeiture of assets under a joint agency agreement between the Australian Federal Police and China's Ministry of Public Security since the Joint Agency Arrangement on Economic Crime Co-operation was re-signed in December.

Australia has long cooperated with China in an effort to crack down on money launderers. REUTERS