‘Investor’ behind 200-bitcoin UK injunction tied to billion-dollar scam

A ‘private investor’ who reportedly brought the UK’s first bitcoin freezing injunction has been identified as a Chinese takeaway worker with ties to a $6 billion bitcoin laundering operation.

The injunction, which froze 200 bitcoins worth £1 million ($1.2 million), was won by UK law firm Devonshires in 2018 after it pursued legal action on behalf of an unnamed investor claiming to have been scammed.  

The Financial Times (FT) reports that the unmanned client was Jian Wen, a former takeaway worker convicted in March for laundering bitcoin linked to a $6 billion Chinese fraud operation led by a fugitive named Zhimin Qian. The frozen bitcoin is also reported to have originated from Qian. 

Wen attempted to purchase a £12.5 million ($15.7 million) property in London and struck a deal with a UK-regulated broker, Exmoor Partners, to convert the bitcoin to help acquire the property. 

However, the deal fell through when the broker stole her funds, leading Wen to seek help from Devonshires. 

‘Bitcoin investor’ claims were a front

Wen claimed in her lawsuit to be a successful bitcoin investor who wanted to capitalize on her profits. This claim was later used against her in court to show her dishonesty.

Exmoor Partners was one of many middlemen Wen pursued to convert the illicit bitcoin funds. She also discussed a property deal with a Dubai-based estate agent who offered ‘a 100% return on paper.’ Prosecutors claimed the estate agent’s deal was “another money laundering scheme, plain and simple.” 

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Wen has repeatedly claimed she didn’t know where the bitcoin originated from. She is also not accused of any fraud that generated the bitcoin she was tasked with laundering. Exmoor’s director, Anwar Sioufi, was disqualified for misappropriating £2.2 million in customer funds from three separate cases, including Wen’s.

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