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Crypto Queen accomplice sentenced for laundering Bitcoin

Jian Wen has been handed a sentence of six years and eight months in prison for her involvement in a Bitcoin (BTC) money laundering plot.

On October 31, 2018, police raided Wen’s residence and found a wallet containing 61,000 Bitcoins, which were seized. The value of the confiscated BTC has since surged from £1.4 billion at the time to over £3 billion ($4 billion).

Wen, 42, was allegedly enlisted by Yadi Zhang (also known as Zhimin Qian and dubbed “Crypto Queen”) to act as a “front person” for the operation.

Zhang is accused of defrauding 130,000 Chinese investors of $5.6 billion between 2014 and 2017. She was reportedly arrested in the U.K. earlier this month.

Wen attempted to purchase prestigious properties in London, such as a £23.5 million mansion in Hampstead and a £12.5 million property with luxurious amenities. These transactions prompted anti-money laundering checks, leading to the cancellation of the purchases due to Wen’s inability to explain the source of the BTC.

During her trial, Wen stated that she was unaware of the illicit origin of the funds and was merely seeking to improve her and her son’s lives. Prosecutors argued that she was driven by personal financial gain. 

Wen was not charged with participation in the initial fraud.

Last March, a jury convicted Wen on one count of money laundering involving 150 BTC valued at nearly £8 million ($10 million). 

Judge Sally-Ann Hales revealed that more than 128,000 investors contributed 40 billion Renminbi (approximately $5.6 billion) to the scheme.

“Some of the proceeds from this fraud were converted into Bitcoin, transferred to a cryptocurrency wallet, and smuggled out of China using a laptop,” she explained.

Despite claiming incomes of only £12,800 (around $16,200) in 2015 and £5,979 (roughly $7,600) in 2016, Wen upgraded to a six-bedroom property in London in 2017, paying over £17,000 (about $21,600) per month.

Wen and her employer purportedly operated an international jewelry business, with Wen acting as the “front person.” They also funded Wen’s son’s move from China to the UK to attend a private school and bought two properties in Dubai.

According to the CPS press release, Wen is guilty of converting “substantial sums” of Bitcoin into cash and other assets on behalf of her employer.

Cryptocurrency money laundering crackdowns

Crypto money laundering has significantly impacted investors by undermining the integrity of the digital asset market. 

Criminals exploit the relative anonymity of cryptocurrencies to launder proceeds from various crimes, including cybercrime, fraud, and thefts

As recently reported by crypto.news, Daren Li and Yicheng Zhang were apprehended for laundering at least $73 million through shell companies connected to cryptocurrency investment schemes. 

Their operation involved overseeing an international syndicate that laundered proceeds from cryptocurrency investment scams.

Victims were duped into transferring millions of dollars to U.S. bank accounts under the guise of shell companies. 

Subsequently, the funds were shifted to various domestic and international bank accounts and cryptocurrency platforms to obfuscate their origin, nature, ownership, and control.

Li and Zhang are charged with conspiracy to commit money laundering and international money laundering, underscoring ongoing efforts to combat illicit activities within the cryptocurrency realm.

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