Sydney man who fled to Syria to join a terrorist group is jailed after laundering more than $ 3 million through the Commonwealth Bank in less than a year
- Belal Betka, 27, deposited more than $ 4 million on 558 separate transactions
- Deposits were just below the $ 10,000 threshold to prevent detection
- Transactions lasted more than 10 months with $ 3.1 million at Commonwealth Bank
- KBA was fined $ 700 million for violating anti-money laundering laws
The first Australian-based man to deal with a terror-related foreign accusation raid has been jailed for a separate case for at least four years after laundering $ 18 million through local banks.
Mount Lewis man Belal Betka, 27, deposited more than $ 4 million over 558 separate transactions – each designed to sit just below the $ 10,000 threshold forcing banks to report the down payment to Austrac financial intelligence.
The transactions took place in Sydney's bank branches in the 10 months to October 2017, with most funds deposited at Commonwealth Bank ($ 3.1 million) and NAB ($ 670,000).
Police raid house of Sydney man Belal Betka in 2017 after discovering he had traveled to a war zone in the Middle East to join a terrorist group
The federal police arrested Betka in December 2017 when they also accused him of traveling to the Syrian conflict zone in 2015.
Since then, he has pleaded guilty to conducting hostile activities in a foreign country and is separately charged with entering or staying in a designated area.
Bankstown man Ahmad Hawchar, 30, and Wiley Park man Zouheir Ghazaoui, 29, were also imprisoned on Monday for their role in the money laundering program.
They have $ 167,000 laundered in October 2017.
A total of $ 18.2 million was deposited on several thousand transactions.
A fine of $ 700 million was imposed on MKBA in June 2018 after admitting it had violated 53,750 occasions against the 2006 anti-money laundering and anti-terrorist financing law.
The bank admitted that it had not carried out an appropriate assessment of the risks of money laundering and terrorist financing of its so-called intelligent deposit machines before October 2017.
Ahmad Hawchar arrives Monday at the Downing Center Local Court in Sydney.
Judge Nicole Noman SC of the NSW court said there was no evidence that one of the men was worried about where the money came from, where it went or who helped it.
When the police arrived in October 2017, they found $ 1.2 million in an apartment in Bankstown and $ 116,000 in the Hawchar car. He claimed that it was to pay fruit and vegetable suppliers.
Each pleaded guilty to their role in the arrangement.
Betka was imprisoned for six years and ten months. He spent nearly two years in pre-trial detention.
Hawchar, who was conditionally released when he was arrested in October 2017, was imprisoned for three years and ten months, while Ghazaoui, who had no previous criminal history, was imprisoned for three years and two months.
Each will be eligible for conditional release at the end of 2021.
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