Dozens of Barclays bank accounts belonging mainly to Chinese students at UK universities have been frozen over fears they have been used by criminals to launder millions of pounds.

UK law enforcement bodies applied to courts around the country in a co-ordinated operation on Thursday to freeze 95 accounts containing an estimated £3.6m of suspicious funds. Far more than that amount passed through the accounts, the agencies said. In some cases, money was “cleaned” by being used to buy luxury goods that were then sent back to China.