Italy Seeks Charges in Bank of China Money-Laundering Probe

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Italian prosecutors filed a request to indict about 300 people, including officials of Bank of China Ltd.’s Milan branch, for crimes including money laundering related to more 4.5 billion euros ($5.1 billion) of funds transferred to China.

Prosecutors in Florence are seeking to charge four managers of the state lender and requested that dozens of Italian residents, originally from China, go to trial, a court filing shows. A seven-year investigation has led to accusations of tax evasion, criminal association and fraud related to several businesses in Italy, prosecutors said in the filing.

The Chinese lender said Tuesday that it hadn’t received any formal prosecution documents from the Italian authorities. The bank always complies with the laws and regulations of countries where it operates and does its duty in investigating money laundering and reporting suspicious transactions, Bank of China said in a statement to Hong Kong’s stock exchange.

Proceeds from criminal activities including brand counterfeiting, slavery and prostitution were smuggled to China from Italy between 2006 and 2010 through a money-transfer service, according to prosecutors. Bank of China’s managers in Milan helped to transfer to China about 2.2 billion euros of cash received by the money-transfer company, the document shows.

The bank’s managers assisted the transfer to China by not reporting suspicious transactions and by helping to hide the source and destination of the funds, the prosecutors allege. Bank of China earned more than 758,000 euros in fees on the transfers, according to the request for indictments.

Officials for the prosecutors’ office in Florence declined to comment.

The prosecutors’ request typically goes to a judge for validation and a date for the hearing has yet to be set, according to a court official, who requested anonymity in line with policy.

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