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Saitama Prefectural Police have been questioning a Chinese man arrested for allegedly running an underground bank and sending money illegally from Japan to China.

Guo Tingyun, 37, was arrested Sept. 4 on suspicion of illegally remitting more than billion to China. Police believe he was sent to Japan by one of several Chinese corporate groups suspected of masterminding illicit money flows from Japan to Hong Kong and then on to mainland China.

Guo’s arrest came two years after police first began investigating several Chinese who remitted money in units of 10 million yen to Hong Kong. Police checked bank account records and corroborated the suspects’ identities with photos on alien registration cards.

Investigators staked out several banks and finally confirmed that one of the men who remitted money to Hong Kong was Guo. They followed him and found that he spent days visiting financial institutions in Tokyo and speaking with people on a mobile phone, police said.

In August, investigators reportedly confirmed that Guo used a fictitious name when remitting money from a bank in the Tokyo suburb of Musashino. This led to his arrest.

The more than 10 bank accounts in Hong Kong to which Guo allegedly remitted money were also used for similar illegal money transfers previously uncovered by the Metropolitan Police Department, Osaka Prefectural Police and other law enforcement authorities.

Guo’s wife claimed in a deposition that the underground bank was opened at the behest of her aunt in Fujian Province, police said.

Investigators believe the scheme worked in the following way: First, when Guo received a remittance request from his customers, including illegal workers and a criminal gang in Japan, he immediately contacted an underground bank organization in Fujian, southeastern China. The organization then sent money to the family of the remitter within a day or two.

Meanwhile, Guo sent the money he received from the customer to an underground bank organization in Hong Kong after taking a 1 percent cut, police said.

The money then flowed to the Hong Kong side of a corporate group operating in both Hong Kong and China. Simultaneously, the same amount of money was transferred from the Chinese side of the corporate group to the underground bank organization in Fujian Province.

The flow of money has the same effect as the corporate group remitting the same amount of money from its group firm in China to its group firm in Hong Kong.

Corporations want to invest illegally earned profits in Hong Kong, where financial regulations are more relaxed. But remitting money through a legitimate channel means a high duty imposed by Chinese authorities. The underground route is used to avoid this, an investigator said.

According to police, 11 cases of illegal remittances to China involving a total of 120 billion yen were uncovered between 1992 and 2001.

Saitama police reportedly seized from Guo’s home a list of more than 1,000 Chinese names and their mobile phone numbers. They suspect that other men working under Guo and elements who have committed robberies are involved.

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