Advertisement

Woman tried in London over alleged bitcoin laundering from $6.3 billion China fraud

By Sam Tobin

LONDON (Reuters) - A woman converted bitcoin into cash and property to help launder the proceeds of a 5 billion pound ($6.3 billion) fraud which was perpetrated in China, prosecutors told a London court on Monday.

Wen Jian is charged with helping to hide the source of money alleged to have been stolen from nearly 130,000 Chinese investors in fraudulent wealth schemes between 2014 and 2017.

The 42-year-old, who denies three counts of money laundering, is not alleged by prosecutors at London's Southwark Crown Court to have been involved in the underlying fraud.

Prosecutor Gillian Jones said the fraud was orchestrated by Zhang Yadi, whose real name is Qian Zhimin and is named on the indictment as the beneficiary of the alleged money laundering.

Zhang fled to Britain under a false identity in 2017 after Chinese authorities began to investigate the scheme, Jones said.

Jones added that individuals alleged to have associated with the scheme had been arrested in China, but that Zhang remained at large and none of the money has been returned to investors.

Jurors were told that Zhang used Wen as a "front person" to help disguise the source of the stolen money, which had been used to buy bitcoin to remove the proceeds from China.

When Zhang landed in London in 2017, she needed to convert the bitcoin back into cash or "property, jewellery or other high-value items", Jones told the jury.

The prosecutor said Wen does not dispute dealing with the bitcoin. The issue for the jury, Jones said, is whether Wen knew or suspected the bitcoin was the proceeds of crime.

The trial is expected to conclude in March. (This story has been corrected to change the age from 44 to 42, in paragraph 3)

(Reporting by Sam Tobin; Editing by Alexander Smith)