Officers from the Police Service’s Economic Crime Unit carried out a search and arrest operation today, Monday 7th November, as part of an investigation into a multi-million pound fraud and money-laundering operation.

In partnership with officers from the Tactical Support Group, the Police Service's Dog Unit and Woodbourne Neighbourhood Policing Team searches were conducted in the Belfast area. Three men aged 44, 40 and 39 have been arrested on suspicion of fraud and money-laundering offences. They remain in custody at this time.

Detective Sergeant Loreen Glenn from the Organised Crime Branch said: “Money laundering is often a critical enabler of organised criminality. We believe that the majority of this money is derived from a range of criminal activity carried out by organised crime gangs and could total in excess of £3 million.

We are committed to keeping people safe by robustly pursuing those who are involved in laundering criminally-derived money and enabling criminals to access the profits gained from their involvement in a range of illegal activities.

"We are also considering that so-called 'money mules' have been in use during these frauds. ‘Money Mules’ refer to persons that transfer stolen money on behalf of others, usually through their bank account, often vulnerable people in dire need of money are targeted for this practice.

“These searches and arrests are an important development in our ongoing work in tackling the threat that serious and organised crime poses. I would appeal for anyone with any information on this type of activity to contact us on 101 or call the independent charity Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.”