A former Chinese takeaway worker living in the UK has been accused of laundering bitcoin from a $6.3 billion China-based fraud by converting it into property and luxury goods.
As reported by the Financial Times, 42-year-old Jian Wen has been charged with three counts of money laundering. She is accused of converting bitcoin on behalf of Yadi Zhang, real name Zhimin Qian, who allegedly stole $6.3 billion worth of funds through investment fraud.
Zhang allegedly stole from 128,000 investors in China between 2014 and 2017 before authorities began pursuing her. It’s reported that she fled the country in 2017, converted the funds into bitcoin, flew to London, and adopted a false identity. She subsequently fled the UK and remains at large.
Prosecutors claim Wen kept Zhang out of focus by acting as her “front person,” helping convert bitcoin into various luxury items, cash, and property “to disguise the true source of the funds.”
Wen denies the charges, claiming she was Zhang’s carer and that she believed Zhang made her money legitimately through bitcoin mining, real estate, and jewelry businesses.
Prosecutors say Wen moved to the UK in 2007 and lived in “relatively modest” housing while working in Chinese takeaways. Then, in 2017, Wen moved into a six-bed London manor house rented by Zhang before becoming a UK citizen in 2018.
Prosecutors noted that Wen was not involved in the $6.3 billion fraud. They told the jury it should consider her dealings with Zhang’s bitcoin, and whether she knew it was funded through criminal means. The case is currently being tried in Southwark Crown Court.