UK Court Jails Woman for Laundering 150 Bitcoin Tied to $5.6 Billion Fraud

The Southwark Crown Court in London, UK, sentenced a woman to jail for money laundering bitcoin tied to a billion-dollar investment fraud.

Jian Wen was sentenced to nearly seven years in prison on Friday after being found guilty of money laundering in connection with a £5 billion ($6.4 billion) fraud scheme.

Woman Jailed for Laundering $6.4 Billion Bitcoin Fraud Proceeds in London Court Trial

According to Bloomberg reports, Jian Wen, a former fast-food worker, has been sentenced to six years and eight months in prison for laundering significant amounts of Bitcoin associated with a US$5.6 billion investment fraud in China. The case saw Wen convicted of money laundering linked to approximately 150 Bitcoin for a Chinese woman between 2017 and 2022. Law enforcement authorities seized over 61,000 Bitcoin valued at over US$4 billion.

During Friday’s sentencing, Judge Sally-Ann Hales remarked that the offense was sophisticated and involved substantial planning, stating, “I am in no doubt that you knew what you were dealing with.”

Despite holding British and Chinese citizenship, Wen consistently denied all allegations against her and is currently appealing her conviction. She portrayed herself as a victim who merely followed instructions from a woman, insisting she was unaware of the funds’ fraudulent origins. Her lawyers further portrayed Wen Jian as another victim of the mastermind behind the fraud, labeling the individual as an “expert criminal supervillain” who exploited Wen Jian’s trustworthiness before discarding her.

However, the prosecution argued that Wen was motivated by greed and financial gain, asserting she played a decisive role in managing the crypto wallet linked to the laundering scheme. Prosecutors described Wen Jian as a “front person” utilized by the fraud mastermind to convert stolen funds into bitcoin, move them out of China, and convert them back into cash.

Wen Jian maintained her innocence, claiming she was simply trying to provide a better life for her son, denying three counts of money laundering, and claiming she did not know Bitcoin’s criminal origins. Despite her claims, jurors found her guilty of one count in March, while two other counts resulted in a hung jury.

In March, a jury found Wen guilty of one count of money laundering after a trial that spanned nearly two months, during which thousands of pieces of evidence, including WhatsApp messages between Wen and the alleged mastermind, were presented.

Wen Jian Sentenced to Six Years and Eight Months for Money Laundering in High-Profile Fraud Case

Wen, 42, experienced a dramatic transformation in her lifestyle, transitioning from living in the basement of an east London Chinese takeaway to residing in a six-bedroom mansion in a leafy suburb and indulging in luxury shopping sprees at Harrods after she began working for the now-arrested female fugitive. Judge Hales noted, “I am in no doubt that you came to enjoy the better things in life.”

In a separate statement, Wen’s lawyer refuted the allegations of fraud against her, asserting that she acquired substantial holdings of Bitcoin through lawful means.

Judge Sally-Ann Hales emphasized that while there was no evidence of Wen Jian’s involvement in the underlying fraud but she was aware she was dealing with criminal proceeds. She sentenced Wen Jian to six years and eight months in prison for a single count of money laundering.

Recently, the EU passed a new anti-money laundering regulation (AMLR) aimed at regulating crypto-asset service providers (CASPs). This regulation empowers Financial Intelligence Units (FIUs) to detect and combat money laundering and terrorist financing.

The legislation package, announced on Wednesday, will impact crypto exchanges and brokers operating under the Markets in Crypto-Assets Regulation (MiCA). These laws introduce “enhanced due diligence measures,” requiring obligated entities such as crypto-asset managers to report suspicious activities to FIUs.

Also, a new supervisory body, AMLA, will oversee implementation. This broad AML/CFT framework applies to all financial institutions, including CASPs, and is not specific to crypto.

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