UK WOMAN GUILTY OF LAUNDERING $6 BILLION IN BITCOIN FROM CHINA FRAUD

A woman has been convicted for her role in converting Bitcoin into tangible assets, aiming to disguise the earnings from a fraud operation worth $6.3 billion.

Jian Wen, who previously worked at a takeaway and lived in North London, was found guilty on a charge of money laundering, after being discovered in possession of Bitcoins exceeding $2.5 billion (£2 billion) in 2018.

She was involved in aiding a Chinese individual, known to her as Zhang Yadi but whose real identity is Qian Zhimin, in the laundering of these Bitcoin proceeds.

The Case of Bitcoin Laundering

The investigation unveiled Wen’s involvement in the conversion of Bitcoin, valued at more than £2 billion, into luxury real estate and high-value jewelry. Her transition from living above a Chinese restaurant in Leeds to a lavish lifestyle marked a significant change following her criminal engagement.

Wen’s justification for her wealth, attributing it to successful Bitcoin mining, was met with skepticism. She encountered obstacles in passing anti-money laundering checks while attempting to acquire high-priced London properties.

Further inquiries identified Zhang Yadi as the architect of the fraudulent scheme, with Wen implicated in assisting Zhang to launder the proceeds from scams that defrauded thousands of Chinese investors.

British authorities confiscated over 61,000 BTC in what became one of the largest crypto seizures worldwide. Initially estimated at around £2 billion, the value of the seized Bitcoin later appreciated to roughly £3.4 billion.

A High Court freezing order has been secured by the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) as part of a civil recovery probe, potentially leading to the seizure of the assets.

Conviction for Money Laundering

Prosecutor Gillian Jones outlined during the trial that Zhang, under scrutiny by Chinese law enforcement, entered the UK in 2017 using a counterfeit passport and sought Wen’s assistance to launder the fraudulently obtained Bitcoin.

While Wen’s defense argued she was misled by Zhang, hoping to better her son’s life, the prosecution contended that the origins of the funds should have been apparent to Wen, given Zhang’s criminal endeavors and evasion from Chinese authorities. The jury, however, found her guilty of money laundering.

Chief Crown Prosecutor Andrew Penhale of the CPS remarked on the growing trend of criminals utilizing cryptocurrencies for asset laundering, highlighting the significant gains fraudsters can achieve.

Detective Chief Superintendent Jason Prins, who spearheaded the probe, underscored the global scale of such operations and the exploitation of digital currencies for criminal activities.

Wen awaits her sentencing on May 10, as authorities continue their search for the fugitive Zhang.

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