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Dubai Link? UK Woman Jailed for Laundering Bitcoin Tied to $5.6B China Fraud

The trial highlighted role of intermediaries and professionals in London and Dubai

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Staff Writer, TLR

Published on May 25, 2024, 13:15:09

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moneylaundering, woman jailed, bitcoin, investment fraud

A woman was sentenced to six years and eight months in jail for laundering massive amounts of bitcoin linked to an alleged US$5.6 billion investment fraud in China.

Jian Wen, a former fast food worker who transformed her life with a luxurious lifestyle, was found guilty of one count of money laundering relating to about 150 bitcoin for a Chinese woman between 2017 and 2022. In the wider operation, the police seized over 61,000 bitcoin, now worth over $4 billion.

“This was an offence which was sophisticated and involved significant planning,” Judge Sally-Ann Hales said Friday, as she handed down the sentence. “I am in no doubt that you knew what you were dealing with.”

Wen, who holds British and Chinese citizenship, consistently denied all allegations against her and is appealing against her conviction. She said she was a victim and only followed instructions from a woman described as the “mastermind” by her lawyers.

Wen did not know the money was obtained in a fraud, her lawyer said. She was not accused of any role in the underlying fraud in China. Instead she was “duped and used” and she “bitterly regrets her involvement” with the alleged mastermind, her lawyer Mark Harries said during the Friday hearing.

The prosecution insisted that Wen was driven by greed and financial gains and was the decision maker for the cryptocurrency wallet in her control.

In March, the jury found Wen guilty of one count of money laundering after the prosecution showed thousands of pieces of evidence including WhatsApp messages between Wen and the alleged mastermind in a nearly two-month long trial.

The trial also highlighted the role of a series of intermediaries and professionals in London and Dubai who helped the two women launder bitcoin and buy assets in the UK, Europe and Dubai.

Wen, 42, went from living in the basement of an East London Chinese takeaway where she was employed, to a six-bedroom mansion in a leafy suburb, spending thousands on luxury shopping sprees at Harrods after she started working for the now-arrested woman fugitive.

Separately, the woman’s lawyer said in a statement that she denies the allegations of fraud against her. He said that she acquired substantial holdings of bitcoin through lawful means.

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