Exclusive: Australia police raid ASIC licensed CFDs broker Prospero Markets, accounts frozen
FNG Exclusive… FNG has learned that the Australian Federal Police (AFP) has raided the offices of Melbourne based, ASIC licensed Retail FX and CFDs broker Prospero Markets, as part of a wider action taken by the AFP against a China based money laundering ring.
Prospero Markets has had all its bank accounts frozen, and has halted all client activity since the AFP raid at the end of October. As part of the raid the sole director of Prospero Markets’ ultimate holding company CJ Prime Financial, Ding Wang, was arrested by the AFP alongside a number of other individuals associated with the company.
Prospero Markets is an ASIC licensed broker which services mainly Chinese speaking clients, both in Australia and across the Far East.
Prospero Markets raid background
At the end of last month, the AFP issued a press release that seven members of an alleged Chinese organised crime syndicate were arrested, and have been accused of secretly running a prominent, multi-billion-dollar money remitting chain in Australia in what the AFP termed the “most complex AFP-led money laundering investigation” in the nation’s history.
The arrests surrounded a nationwide chain of currency exchange outlets called Changjiang Currency Exchange, which the AFP alleges is being secretly run by the Long River money laundering syndicate out of China. The syndicate and Changjiang Currency Exchange are accused of laundering $229 million in the proceeds of crime over the past three years.
Four Chinese nationals and three Australian citizens have been charged for their alleged involvement in the money laundering syndicate, and have already appeared in Melbourne Magistrates’ Court, although the AFP did not release their names.
Prospero Markets director arrested
However Australian news site The Australian is reporting that one of those arrested is Ding Wang, who is listed as the sole director of CJ Prime Financial, the ultimate holding company of ASIC licensed broker Prospero Markets, and Prospero Markets’ presumed controlling shareholder.
And it turns out that Prospero Markets’ offices were among those locations which were raided by the AFP in late October. Prospero Markets’ bank accounts were also frozen.
Following the AFP raid, FNG has learned that Prospero Markets clients were sent an email stating:
“We regret to inform you that Prospero Markets’ bank accounts including but not limited to its Client Money bank accounts have been frozen by the banks.
“We are in the process of contacting the relevant banks to have these accounts unfrozen.
“As a result, we have been unable to process your deposits and withdrawals, as well as other required dealings in these accounts, since October 25.
“We are working to rectify this as quickly as possible.’’
An additional message sent to Prospero clients noted:
“We hereby notify you of our decision to terminate the T&Cs (terms and conditions) by 5pm AEDT on 12 November, 2023.
“Additionally our ability to quote pricing for some products has been terminated, and we are very likely to lose the ability to quote prices for remaining products at any time without notice.
“As a result, an event of default has occurred under the T&Cs and we are of the view that more events of default may occur soon.’’
While the AFP did not specifically mention Prospero Markets in its aforementioned press release or formally link the Changjiang Currency Exchange to Prospero Markets, The Australian is reporting that a number of those arrested (aside from Ding Wang) also have links to Prospero Markets. The Australian also reported that a source informed it that it is “common knowledge” in the Chinese community in Australia that Changjiang Currency Exchange and Prospero were run by the same people.
The ASIC website still shows Prospero Markets Pty Ltd as being duly licensed in Australia.
In the meantime, while Prospero Markets’ website at prosperomarkets.com remains up, its ‘Open Account’ function shows the following message (as per the graphic at top):
We regret to inform you that due to circumstances beyond our control, Prospero Markets is temporarily unable to accept any new account opening requests. We are deeply sorry for the inconvenience this may cause you.
We regret to inform you that due to circumstances out of our control Prospero Markets are not able to accept any new account opening requests. We apologize for any inconvenience this may have caused.
Prospero Securities Team
We will continue to follow this story as it develops.