Suspicious financial transactions that reeked of money laundering hit a record in 2018, according to the National Police Agency.

It said Feb. 28 that banks and other financial institutions reported 417,465 such money transfers last year.

Reports filed by cryptocurrency exchange service operators accounted for 7,096 cases, a more than 10-fold increase over the previous year.

The Law for Prevention of Transfer of Criminal Proceeds requires banks and other institutions to report any suspected money laundering to governing agencies.

The NPA consolidates the information and makes the data available to prefectural governments and the offices of public prosecutors.

Under the amended law enforced in April 2017, cryptocurrency exchange service providers are also obliged to report suspected money laundering cases.

In the period between April and December of that year, 669 cases were reported.

The number of confirmed money laundering cases in 2018 also hit a high of 511, a 42-percent increase from the previous year’s record.

In 377 cases, or about 70 percent of the total, there was clear intent to violate the law to punish organized crime by covering up the proceeds of criminal activities.

It represented a 57-percent increase over the previous year. Thirty-six cases involved organized crime groups, or 14 more than in 2017.

According to the NPA, a typical money laundering transaction involves funds being transferred into an account bearing the name of another individual.

Invariably the funds were fraudulently gained through bank transfer scams or illegal loan sharking operations.