Operative carried $100k in shopping bag

Invercargill District Court.

AN INVERCARGILL woman who transported $100,000 cash from Invercargill to Christchurch in a supermarket shopping bag admitted her part in a national money laundering ring when she appeared in the Invercargill District Court last week.

The woman (26), who has interim name suppression, was one part of a racket revealed during a police investigation dubbed Operation Brookings which commenced in January 2020.

The summary of facts says the activity at the centre of the operation was an informal and unregistered Bitcoin trading operation run throughout New Zelaand

The mainplayer ran an informal and unregistered Bitcoin trading operation throughout New Zealand between 2015 and 2020, providing a cryptocurrency trading service and a money remitting service, the summary says.

He would also use the money to purchase high-value assets.

The New Zealand Herald reported in October 2020 millions of dollars of high-end assets were seized in Auckland as part of the opertion.

The Southland woman received the money from an unidentified third party then transported the money on May 26, 2020 with another person. They both knew the funds had been gained through drug dealing.

Their part of the laundering scheme was to drive the money from Invercargill to Christchurch to deliver it to another vehicle parked at Christchurch Airport on May 26, 2020.

The pair handed over a Countdown shopping bag containing the money to two men who had flown from Auckland to to collect it.

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

Police executed a covert search warrant on the Cook Strait Ferry on May 27, 2020 to search the rental car the Aucklanders were travelling in.

“Approximately NZD $100,000 cash was located inside the bag in bundles of $20 bank notes (held together with tape) and $50 bank notes (held together with rubber bands),” the summary says.

Last Tuesday, Judge Catriona Doyle remanded the woman on bail to appear for sentence on March 24.

A name suppression hearing would be held two days before the sentencing.

The co-offender was next due to appear in court on April 4.