April 22, 2024

UK Woman Convicted of Laundering $2.5 Billion in Bitcoin in Record Seizure

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In what authorities describe as a landmark case, Jian Wen, a 42-year-old British citizen, was convicted on Wednesday by the Southwark Crown Court on one count of money laundering. While the jury was unable to reach a verdict on two additional charges, the conviction underscores the growing concern over the use of cryptocurrencies by organized criminals to conceal and transfer illicit assets.

Andrew Penhale, Chief Crown Prosecutor, emphasized the significance of the case, stating, “Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies are increasingly being used by organized criminals to disguise and transfer assets, so that fraudsters may enjoy the benefits of their criminal conduct.”

Wen’s transformation from a modest lifestyle above a Chinese restaurant in Leeds to renting a luxurious six-bedroom house costing approximately $21,420 per month raised suspicions. Investigators traced her newfound wealth back to a Chinese national named Yadi Zhang, believed to be the source of the illicit Bitcoin fortune.

Prosecutors revealed that Wen attempted to purchase several multi-million-pound properties across London between 2017 and 2018, with values ranging from £4.5 million to £23.5 million. However, these efforts were thwarted by Know Your Customer (KYC) restrictions.

The investigation, spanning over five years, involved analyzing 48 electronic devices and thousands of files, many of which required translation from Mandarin. It was the attempted $30 million purchase of a London mansion that ultimately triggered heightened scrutiny and led to Wen’s conviction.

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