Guilty Verdict in Billion-dollar British Bitcoin Laundering Trial

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  • A Chinese woman has been found guilty of helping her employer launder over a billion dollars
  • Jian Wen and her boss, Yadi Zhang, ran dual scams and tried to launder the proceeds in London
  • A raid on their house found over a billion dollars in the cryptocurrency

A Chinese woman accused of laundering billions of dollars linked to piracy and Chinese investment fraud has been jailed. 42-year-old Jian Wen was last week found guilty of laundering the coins for her former employer, Yadi Zhang, an alleged fugitive from Beijing. The trial revealed the scam operated by Zhang, which used a jewelry empire as a front for the illegal operations, with police seizing $1.7 billion in bitcoins in a 2018 raid after the couple refused to state where their money came from when trying to buy multi-million dollar properties.

Big Spending Alerts Authorities

Zhang and Wen arrived in the UK in 2017, whereupon they immediately began spending big on luxury goods, claiming to run an international jewelry business. They led a lavish lifestyle off the back of it, with Wen even enrolling her son in an exclusive preparatory school. However, their extravagant spending raised red flags when they tried to acquire some of London’s most prestigious properties without disclosing the source of their funds.

Police launched an investigation shortly after these attempted purchases, ending in a raid in 2018 in which investigators stumbled upon an astonishing discovery: over 61,000 bitcoins worth $1.7 billion at the time, constituting the largest cryptocurrency seizure in the UK. The coins, now valued at over £3 billion, were linked to a $6.3 billion investment scam masterminded by Zhang.

Zhang Fled UK

Following the pair’s arrest, the story of the pair’s wealth unfolded: Zhang, also known as Zhimin Qian, had orchestrated fraudulent wealth schemes in China, exploiting nearly 130,000 investors between 2014 and 2017. He brought his ill-gotten gains to London but, potentially suspecting the police were on his back, fled the UK, leaving Wen to face the music alone.

Wen faced three counts relating to the laundering of the proceeds, with the jury at Southwark Crown Court last week finding her guilty of one count of money laundering between 2017 and 2022 but failing to reach verdicts on two counts.