The UK Metropolitan Police have seized over 61,000 bitcoins in connection to an extensive Chinese investment scam. A British national is facing accusations of laundering bitcoin on behalf of a Chinese fugitive, who is alleged to have embezzled around $6.4 billion from over 128,000 investors.
British Authorities Confiscate 61,000 Bitcoins
The UK Metropolitan Police have confiscated over 61,000 bitcoins in connection with a substantial investment fraud in China, marking one of the largest global cryptocurrency seizures, as reported by the Financial Times on Tuesday.
This revelation emerged during the trial of 42-year-old Jian Wen, who stands accused of laundering bitcoin for her former employer, Zhimin Qian, also known as Yadi Zhang, an alleged fugitive from China. Wen, a British citizen since 2018, moved to the UK from China in 2007.
During the trial at Southwark Crown Court on Monday, the prosecution informed the jury that the seized bitcoins originated from an investment fraud orchestrated by Zhang in China between 2014 and 2017.
In 2018, UK police seized more than 61,000 bitcoins from a safety deposit box and a residence shared by Wen and Zhang.
The bitcoin, valued at nearly $1.8 billion in July 2021 when recovered, has appreciated to $2.6 billion based on the current BTC price of $43,049.
Zhang is accused of stealing $6.4 billion from over 128,000 investors and converting the funds into BTC. Despite entering London in 2017 under a false identity, she has since fled the UK and remains at large.
While denying involvement in the underlying fraud, Wen is charged with knowingly facilitating the conversion of Zhang’s bitcoin into cash, jewelry, luxury items, and property. Gillian Jones KC, counsel for the Crown Prosecution Service, stated, “Ms. Wen had been trusted not only with copies of the passwords and passphrases to access the laptops [containing the bitcoin] but with access to where the laptops were being stored.”
In a separate case, the Saxony state police in Germany revealed the seizure of approximately 50,000 bitcoins this week, describing it as “the most extensive seizure of bitcoins by law enforcement authorities in the Federal Republic of Germany to date.