Trial Underway For Alleged Bitcoin Laundering Linked To £5 Billion Fraud

The London trial begins for a woman accused of using bitcoin to launder £5 billion from a massive Chinese fraud.

What is the £5 billion bitcoin laundering case in London?

On Monday, Southwark Crown Court initiated the trial of Jian Wen, a 42-year-old British-Chinese woman, charged with laundering bitcoin proceeds from a colossal £5 billion ($6.4 billion) fraud perpetrated in China. Wen faces three counts of money laundering associated with her employer, Yadi Zhang, who remains a fugitive. The court learned that Zhang defrauded over 128,000 Chinese investors between 2014 and 2017, subsequently converting the illicit gains into bitcoin and relocating to London under an assumed identity in 2017.

The Mechanism Of The Alleged Laundering Scheme

Prosecutors contend that Wen played a pivotal role in converting the fraudulently obtained bitcoin into cash, jewelry, luxury goods, and property to obscure the funds' origins. Gillian Jones KC, representing the Crown Prosecution Service, emphasized to the jury Wen's alleged involvement in facilitating Zhang's concealment of the fraud's proceeds, despite Wen not participating directly in the fraud itself.

Southwark Crown Court, London
Southwark Crown Court, London

Defendant's Transformation And Accomplice's Flight

Highlighting Wen's transition from working in Chinese takeaway restaurants to living in a lavish six-bedroom manor in north London alongside Zhang, prosecutors painted a picture of Wen's alleged complicity. Zhang, whose genuine identity is revealed as Zhimin Qian, has since fled the UK, eluding capture. The prosecution underscored Wen's alleged role in maintaining Zhang's anonymity, positioning her as the operation's visible facade.

Wen's Defence And Trial Expectations

Wen, who has entered a plea of not guilty, portrayed herself as Zhang's "carer," claiming she was under the impression that Zhang's wealth stemmed from legitimate business endeavors in jewelry and real estate, alongside bona fide bitcoin mining. The trial, capturing the attention of both the public and investors affected by the fraud, is anticipated to extend into early March, promising a thorough examination of the intricacies involved in one of the most significant laundering cases tied to cryptocurrency fraud.

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