U.S., China emerge as major channels for money laundering: report

SEJONG, July 11 (Yonhap) -- The United States and China have been emerging as major channels for South Koreans seeking to launder money or stash away their wealth overseas, a customs agency said Thursday.

According to the Korea Customs Service (KCS), the amount of money laundering by South Koreans through the U.S. came to 157.8 billion won (US$139.9 million) last year, up from 8.5 billion won a year earlier.

The amount is also sharply higher than just 100 million won involved in a single money laundering case that the KCS detected in 2009, it said.

The U.S. also emerged as a major channel for Koreans seeking to stash money overseas. The amount of money involved came to 14.4 billion won last year, up from 2.4 billion won in 2011.

Money laundering through China also has spiked in recent years, according to the agency.

The amount of cracked-down money laundering through the country stood at 25.2 billion won last year compared with 8.5 billion won a year earlier. Illegal money flight to China also increased from 5.1 billion won to 6.3 billion won.

Money laundering through Hong Kong, meanwhile, has declined sharply over the same period from 30.6 billion won to 500 million won, while capital flight through the region also plunged from 104.5 billion won to 500 million won, the report showed.

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