A Chinese-British woman, Jian Wen, is facing charges in London for allegedly helping a fugitive, Yadi Zhang, launder Bitcoin (BTC) obtained from proceeds of a previous investment fraud that affected nearly 130,000 investors.
Authorities seized devices holding over 61,000 Bitcoin that came from $6.34 billion previously stolen by Zhang from investors in China.
A Fake Chinese Investment Scheme
Jian Wen, who is currently on trial, is facing a three-count charge of money laundering following her involvement with alleged fraudster Yadi Zhang, whose real name is Zhimin Qian.
According to prosecutors, Zhang, through a fake wealth management scheme, stole £5 billion ($6.34 billion) from unsuspecting investors in China between 2014 and 2017, which was later converted to Bitcoin. She fled China to London in 2017 and assumed a fake identity to evade Chinese authorities.
Wen, who became a British citizen in 2018 after arriving in the United Kingdom in 2007, is alleged to be the front person for Zhang, according to the counsel for the Crown Prosecution Service, Gillian Jones KC.
Jones further told the jury in a London court that Wen helped Zhang to convert some of the latter’s BTC into property, cash, jewelry, and other luxury items, adding that Wen’s attempt to purchase a London property worth £12.5 million for Zhang in 2018 through a law firm, fell through, as the law firm could not determine the source of the Bitcoin.
Meanwhile, Wen has pleaded not guilty, stating that she was Zhang’s carer and believed that the latter’s Bitcoin was obtained from legitimate sources.
A Monumental Seizure
The prosecution also revealed to the jury that the Metropolitan Police in 2018 seized four separate devices containing more than 61,000 BTC found in a safety deposit box and a property where Wen and Zhang were residing at the time.
In 2021, the value of all the crypto confiscated by the police was worth £1.4 billion ($1.77 billion), which is one of the largest seizures globally. At the current price of Bitcoin, 61,000 BTC is valued at $2.6 billion.
While Wen’s trial is still ongoing, Zhang is said to have fled the United Kingdom, with prosecutors stating that she remains at large.
In related news, the German police seized more than 50,000 Bitcoin worth over $2 billion from two men who allegedly violated copyright laws following their operation of a piracy website.