Name suppression final for money-mule

Invercargill District Court. PHOTO: ODT FILES
Invercargill District Court. PHOTO: ODT FILES
A Southland woman who transported $100,000 in a bag for a money-laundering racket was granted final name suppression yesterday.

The 25-year-old woman was sentenced to seven months’ home detention last month after having previously pleaded guilty to a charge of engaging in a money-laundering transaction.

At a hearing at Invercargill District Court yesterday, Judge John Brandts-Giesen granted her permanent name suppression based on the extreme hardship she could face.

His decision was made after advice from a doctor, but details of her health were also suppressed.

A man who was jointly charged with engaging in a money-laundering transaction was also granted interim name suppression by the judge.

Crown prosecutor Sarah McKenzie did not oppose the applications for name suppression.

The summary of facts stated the pair were money mules who took $100,000 raised from drug dealing to Christchurch in a supermarket shopping bag to deliver to two key players in the money-laundering operation.

It said the main player in the operation, the subject of the police’s "Operation Brooking", ran an informal and unregistered bitcoin trading scheme in New Zealand between 2015 and 2020, providing a cryptocurrency trading service and a money remitting service. He would also use the money to buy high-value assets.

The services were used by people who had obtained money by illegal means.

The Southland woman admitted receiving the money from an unidentified third party, then transporting the money with her co-offender on May 26, 2020, to Christchurch Airport, where it was handed to two main players in the money-laundering ring.

At 9.55pm that day, the Southland pair were arrested in Timaru.

Two men had flown from Auckland to collect it and were caught after police executed a covert search warrant on the Cook Strait ferry the following day and found the money in a rental car they were travelling in.





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