Japanese police have uncovered a record number of money laundering cases, some of which involved international criminal networks using bank accounts in the country, a new report shows.
Incidents of money laundering rose about 40% on the year to 511 in 2018, topping 500 for the first time in data going back to 2000, according to the 2019 police white paper published Monday.
“International money laundering is rampant,” according to the report.
In one case, Nigerian suspects withdrew roughly 37 million yen ($340,000) from a bank account in Japan after the money had been transferred as part of a U.S. scam.
Because Japan is home to many small and midsize companies that make frequent overseas transactions, “criminal organizations may see the country as an easy place to disguise illicit profits,” a police source said.
A sharp increase was seen in suspicious activity involving cryptocurrencies. Exchanges handling the currencies reported more than 10 times as many suspected incidents of money laundering and illicit profits as in 2017, according to the report.