A Chinese national wanted in connection with a Ponzi scheme estimated to have defrauded nearly 24,000 victims out of EUR 34 million was arrested in Papua New Guinea following cooperation via INTERPOL.
Posing as an investment opportunity promising attractive returns, the scheme exploited social media and word of mouth to attract investors and incite them to recruit others. In reality, existing debts were paid with funds received from more recent investors in a textbook Ponzi scheme while the operators enriched themselves.
The 46-year-old was identified after attempting to use a falsified passport to obtain a visa, when follow up enquiries revealed him to be the subject of an INTERPOL Red Notice, issued at the request of China in 2021.
Further cooperation between China, Papua New Guinea and Singapore – supported by the INTERPOL Financial Crime and Anti-Corruption Centre (IFCACC) as well as INTERPOL’s Fugitive Investigative Support unit and Command and Coordination Centre – resulted in the man’s arrest at Jacksons International Airport in Papua New Guinea.
He was subsequently returned to China via Singapore.
“The fact that the Red Notice subject could be successfully apprehended and brought back to China amid COVID-19 again demonstrates the unique role of INTERPOL in fighting transnational crimes,” said Mr Duan, Head of INTERPOL’s National Central Bureau (NCB) in Beijing.
“This would not have been possible without close coordination between the national authorities involved and INTERPOL. NCB Beijing remains committed to connecting and working closely with all INTERPOL member countries for a safer world.”
“This case clearly demonstrates the importance of police collaboration across global boundaries and makes it clear for fugitives that the world is effectively shrinking through INTERPOL’s network, leaving nowhere to hide,” said INTERPOL’s Executive Director for Police Services Stephen Kavanagh, welcoming the arrest.
“Cases like this highlight the significance of speedy use of data sets for member country interests and how INTERPOL capabilities serve to bring criminals to justice,” added Mr Kavanagh.
The arrest comes as part of Project LEAP, which works across South-East Asia to tackle forestry crime through increased intelligence sharing, operational support and capacity building, particularly money laundering training.
With LEAP encouraging multi-agency cooperation, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime and INTERPOL supported Papua New Guinea’s law enforcement agencies involved in this case by providing expert money laundering expertise and training.
INTERPOL launched the IFCACC earlier this year, to provide a coordinated global response against the exponential growth in transnational financial crime.