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UK Woman Sentenced For Laundering $10M in Bitcoin Tied To $5.6B Fraud

According to a Bloomberg report on May 24, the Southwark Crown Court in London, UK, sentenced a woman to prison for laundering Bitcoin (BTC) linked to a $5.4 billion fraud scheme.

Criminal Activities

Jian Wen, 42, with both Chinese and UK citizenship, was found guilty of laundering around 150 Bitcoin, valued at approximately $10.4 million at current prices.

It was a part of a larger investment fraud scheme. Law enforcement authorities seized 61,000 BTC, worth around $4.22 billion, tied to a broader purported $5.6 billion scheme. Wen asserts that she laundered funds for a Chinese woman from 2017 to 2022, arguing that the woman was the “mastermind” behind the operation.ย 

Jian Wen’s Defense in Money Laundering Case

During Fridayโ€™s sentencing, Judge Sally-Ann Hales commented on the sophistication of the offense and the significant level of planning involved. She remarked, โ€œI am in no doubt that you knew what you were dealing with.โ€ Wen continuously denied all accusations against her and is presently appealing her conviction.ย 

She portrayed herself as a victim who simply followed instructions from another woman, claiming she had no awareness of the funds’ fraudulent origins. Her lawyers emphasized that Wen was another victim of the mastermind behind the fraud. They labeled this individual as an “expert criminal supervillain” who exploited Wen’s trustworthiness before discarding her.ย 

Judge’s Remarks

According to the prosecution, Wen was motivated by financial gain and greed, asserting she played a critical role in managing the crypto wallet linked to the laundering scheme. Moreover, prosecutors labeled Wen Jian as a “front person” utilized by the fraud mastermind to convert stolen funds into Bitcoin, transfer them out of China, and convert them back into cash.ย 

Wen maintained her innocence, asserting that she solely aimed to provide her son with a better life. She denied three counts of money laundering and insisted she was unaware of Bitcoin’s criminal origins. Prior to her involvement in this fraud, Wen was working as a food delivery worker.

Yadi Zhang, Wen’s housemate and boss at her former workplace, disappeared following the search. It later emerged that she was the mastermind behind an extensive money laundering scheme, having defrauded 130,000 Chinese investors before fleeing to the UK. Zhang hired Wen to use her as her “front person.”Detectives found that Zhang, also known as Zhimin Qian, had wild dreams of becoming the queen of a small European nation. Reportedly, Qian managed to escape with approximately $250 million.ย 

Wen Sentenced to Six Years and Eight Months For Bitcoin Laundering

Wenโ€™s lawyer argued that Wen obtained significant Bitcoin holdings through legal channels. Judge Sally-Ann Hales emphasized that while there was no evidence directly linking Wen to the underlying fraud, she acknowledged Wen’s awareness of dealing with criminal proceeds. She received a sentence of six years and eight months in prison.

Read More: Trader Faces $68m Loss in Shocking Wrapped Bitcoin Address Poisoning Scam

EU Introduces New Anti-Money Laundering Regulation

Recently, the EU passed a new anti-money laundering rule to regulate crypto-asset service providers. This rule gives Financial Intelligence Units the power to fight money laundering and terrorist financing.

The new laws announced on Wednesday will affect crypto exchanges and brokers under the Markets in Crypto-Assets Regulation (MiCA). They require crypto-asset managers and other entities to take extra steps to monitor and report suspicious activities to Financial Intelligence Units.