China punishes money launderers in landmark case

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BEIJING, Oct 23 (Reuters) China has sentenced four people to jail terms in the country's first money laundering judgment since landmark legislation was passed last year, local media reported.

Shanghai Hongkou People's Court handed Pan Xumin, Zhu Suzhen, Li Daming, and Gong Yuan jail terms ranging from one year and three months to two years for laundering more than 1 million yuan (133,000 dollars), today's Beijing News said, citing a statement from the Shanghai branch of the People's Bank of China.

The four had ''concealed (the funds') nature and origins, provided bank accounts and helped divert funds through transfers and other measures,'' the paper said, citing the court.

They also received fines ranging from 20,000 to 60,000 yuan (about 2,600 dollars to 8,000 dollars), the paper said.

The case showed the banking regulator's anti-money laundering watchdog was proving ''effective'', the paper said, citing the bank, although it did not disclose further details of the money-laundering scheme.

China has pledged to rein in money laundering across its banking, securities and insurance sectors, and to step up coordination with other countries.

Since its anti-money laundering law came into effect this year, China has released detailed rules requiring banks to report suspicious transactions in a timely fashion, and in June joined the Paris-based Financial Action Task Force, a global organisation fighting money laundering and terrorist financing.

China's alleged involvement in international money laundering took on political dimensions last year after two banks in Macau came under US scrutiny for possible connection with North Korea's illicit fund-raising network.

REUTERS ARB KN1015

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