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Woman Jailed for $6.4B Bitcoin Laundering Scam

Bitcoin Laundering

A woman was convicted in jail for money laundering bitcoin linked to a billion-dollar investment fraud by the Southwark Crown Court in London, UK.

On Friday, after being found guilty of money laundering in relation to a £5 billion ($6.4 billion) fraud scam, Jian Wen was sentenced to almost seven years in prison.

Details of the Bitcoin Laundering Scheme

Former fast-food worker Jian Wen has been convicted of six years and eight months in prison for laundering large quantities of bitcoin linked to a US$5.6 billion investment fraud in China, according to Bloomberg sources. For a Chinese woman between 2017 and 2022, Wen was found guilty of money laundering connected to about 150 bitcoin. Authorities in law enforcement seized around 61,000 bitcoins valued at more than US$4 billion.

Judge Sally-Ann Hales said, “I am in no doubt that you knew what you were dealing with,” during Friday’s sentencing, when noting that the offense was sophisticated and had significant forethought.

Wen is currently fighting her conviction even though she holds British and Chinese citizenship and has constantly refuted all accusations against her. She presented herself as a victim who just followed directions from a woman, adamant that she knew the money came from fraud. Her lawyers also presented Wen Jian as another victim of the mastermind behind the deception, characterizing the person as an “expert criminal supervillain” who took advantage of Wen Jian’s credibility before discarding her.

The prosecution, however, claimed Wen managed the crypto wallet connected to the laundering operation and was driven by money and financial gain. Prosecutors said Wen Jian was a “front person” used by the fraud master to shift stolen money out of China, turn it into bitcoin, and then back into cash.

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Denying three counts of money laundering, Wen Jian maintained her innocence, stating she was merely trying to provide her son with a better life and saying she did not know the criminal roots of Bitcoin. Though she claimed otherwise, juries decided her guilty on one offense in March; two other counts produced a deadlocked verdict.

Following a nearly two-month trial during which hundreds of pieces of evidence—including WhatsApp exchanges between Wen and the claimed mastermind—were presented, a jury found Wen guilty of one count of money laundering in March.

Luxury Lifestyle Transformation

From living in the basement of an east London Chinese takeaway to living in a six-bedroom mansion in a leafy suburb and indulging in luxury shopping sprees at Harrods after she started working for the now-arrested female fugitive, Wen, 42, underwent a radical change in her lifestyle. “I am in no doubt that you came to enjoy the better things in life,” Judge Hales said.

Wen’s attorney responded in a second statement refuting the claims of fraud against her by stating she obtained significant Bitcoin ownership via legal channels.

Judge Sally-Ann Hales underlined that although there was no proof Wen Jian participated in the underlying fraud, she was aware she was handling illicit money. Wen Jian was sentenced for a single offense of money laundering to six years and eight months in jail.

Aimed at controlling crypto-asset service providers (CASPs), the EU has adopted a new anti-money laundering rule (AMLR). This control gives Financial Intelligence Units (FIUs) authority to identify and stop terrorism financing and money laundering.

Announced on Wednesday, the legislative package would affect brokers and exchanges for cryptocurrencies running under the Markets in Crypto-Assets Regulation (MiCA). These rules include “enhanced due diligence measures,” mandating that obligated companies, including crypto-asset managers, notify FIUs of suspected activity.

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Furthermore, in charge of implementation will be a new supervisory authority, AMLA. Not related to cryptocurrency, this wide AML/CFT framework covers all financial institutions, including CASPs.

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