MPD to create special unit to crack down on money laundering

The Yomiuri Shimbun
The Metropolitan Police Department building in Chiyoda Ward, Tokyo

The Metropolitan Police Department will establish the nation‘s first “criminal proceeds control section” specializing in cases of money laundering as part of its reorganization next fiscal year, The Yomiuri Shimbun has learned.

The MPD aims to increase its resources to analyze and expose money laundering, which is becoming increasingly complex and sophisticated.

According to the National Police Agency, the number of suspicious transactions that may involve money laundering or similar crimes is increasing almost every year, totaling about 430,000 nationwide in 2020. The tactics employed are becoming highly sophisticated, such as transfers of fraudulently obtained money using highly anonymous crypto assets. Even when the scammer is found, it is often difficult to recover lost funds.

As such, the MPD will revamp its organized crime control bureau in the next fiscal year, upgrading its money laundering task force to the new crime proceeds control section. In addition to expanding investigation capacity, a “confiscation security section” will be set up, in charge of promptly seizing criminal proceeds uncovered during investigations and helping facilitate restitution to victims.

In cases of “business email fraud,” in which fake transaction emails are sent to companies in other countries to induce them to send money, police are aware that the money from such frauds is withdrawn at times from financial institutions in Japan. The police will deepen cooperation with overseas investigative authorities to uncover international criminal organizations.

It will be the first reorganization of the MPD’s organized crime control bureau, which was established in 2003. In addition, the bureau’s first and second sections, which focus on crimes committed by foreigners, will be integrated into the international crime section, and its third and fourth sections, which handle countermeasures and investigations of crime syndicates, will be integrated into the organized crime control section. This aims to centralize information and improve the efficiency of investigations.

The Yomiuri Shimbun

The fifth section, which deals with illegal drugs and firearms, will be renamed as the drug and firearms control section.

 “We will advance with an organization that responds to changes in nature of crimes,” a senior MPD official said.