British authorities have seized 61,000 BTC worth about 1.4 billion pounds (or $1.78 billion) in connection with an investment scam carried out in China, the Financial Times reported.
Fraud mastermind Qian Zhimin took some of the profits from a £5bn investment scam in China between 2014 and 2017 to facilitate seamless fund transfers from the Asian country. exchanged for the highest grade virtual currency.
Ms Cheng, now identified as Yadi Chan, holds a St Kitts and Nevis passport and moved to the UK in 2017. However, her prosecutor’s office announced that she has since fled the country and that she remains a fugitive.
Authorities uncovered the fraud when Mr Zhang sought Jianwen’s help to launder money and eventually made a high-profile attempt to buy a £23.5m mansion in London. This led to police raiding the apartment they were renting for £17,000 a month, resulting in the seizure of a number of digital wallets containing 61,000 BTC.
Although not involved in the original fraud, Wen is on trial on three counts of money laundering. Her prosecutors alleged that she helped Zhang turn digital assets into cash, jewelry, other luxury goods and real estate, knowing that the proceeds were the proceeds of her crimes.
In particular, an attempt to buy a property with BTC, including a £12.5 million eight-bedroom house with a cinema and gym, failed because its provenance could not be explained.
Ms. Wen has maintained her innocence and said she was merely Ms. Zhang’s caregiver.
Meanwhile, the seizure is in line with a broader trend of British authorities cracking down on illicit cryptocurrency activity. On January 26, the National Crime Agency announced that it had seized $150 million linked to a multi-million dollar drug enterprise.
In the global context, authorities in the United States and Germany have recently taken similar actions. On January 30, German police announced that they had seized a record $2.3 billion worth of illegal cryptocurrencies from pirated websites.