Takeaway worker who used £2bn Bitcoin to rent £17,000-a-month London house faces jail over money laundering charge

21 March 2024, 08:51 | Updated: 21 March 2024, 08:58

Jian Wen was convicted in relation to 150 Bitcoin being laundered which is worth around £7.5 million
Jian Wen was convicted in relation to 150 Bitcoin being laundered which is worth around £7.5 million. Picture: Metropolitan Police

By Asher McShane

A former takeaway worker found with Bitcoin wallets worth over £2bn has been convicted of a money laundering offence.

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Jian Wen, 42, was living above a Chinese restaurant in Leeds where she worked before she became involved in a criminal racket.

She was convicted of a crime linked to money laundering allegedly linked to an investment fraud in China, prosecutors said.

In 2017, she moved into a six-bedroom house in north London which cost more than £17,000 a month in rent.

She posed as an employee of an international jewellery business and moved her son to the UK to go to private school, the CPS said.

Wen rented a six-bedroom home in north London for £17,000-a-month
Wen rented a six-bedroom home in north London for £17,000-a-month. Picture: Metropolitan Police

That year, she tried to buy expensive houses in London, but struggled to pass money-laundering checks and her claim to have earned millions mining Bitcoin were not believed.

Two years later, she bought properties in Dubai and spent tens of thousands on jewellery.

She was convicted this week of  entering into or becoming concerned in a money laundering arrangement at Southwark Crown Court. She is due to be sentenced on May 10.

Her charge concerned a link to the laundering of 150 Bitcoin worth around £7.5 million.

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Police discovered piles of cash
Police discovered piles of cash. Picture: Metropolitan Police

The Met police said the investigation had been linked to a wider fraudulent operation - and had seized more than 61,000 Bitcoin - thought to be the biggest ever of its kind.

Andrew Penhale, Chief Crown Prosecutor, said: “Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies are increasingly being used by organised criminals to disguise and transfer assets, so that fraudsters may enjoy the benefits of their criminal conduct. This case, involving the largest cryptocurrency seizure in the UK, illustrates the scale of criminal proceeds available to those fraudsters.

She also bought property in Dubai and spent tens of thousands on jewellery
She also bought property in Dubai and spent tens of thousands on jewellery. Picture: Metropolitan Police

“Although the original fraudster remains at large, the Metropolitan Police and CPS have successfully secured a money laundering conviction against Jian Wen, an individual employed to launder criminal proceeds. The CPS will now work to ensure, through criminal confiscation and civil proceedings, that the criminal assets remain beyond the fraudsters’ reach.

“The CPS is committed to working closely with law enforcement and investigatory authorities, to bring to justice individuals and companies who engage in laundering criminal proceeds through cryptocurrency."

Texts showing her purchase of a property in Dubai
Texts showing her purchase of a property in Dubai. Picture: Metropolitan Police

Detective Chief Superintendent Jason Prins, whose team led the investigation, said: “Thanks to the hard work and perseverance of highly skilled detectives in the Met, we have been able to disrupt a sophisticated economic crime operation – the sheer scale of which demonstrates how international criminals seek to exploit cryptocurrency for illegal purposes.

“Our team have helped secure justice and have persevered to trace this Bitcoin and identify the criminality it was linked to.

“This verdict and lengthy five-year investigation demonstrates that we’ll leave no stone unturned in our pursuit to catch criminals who look to enjoy the proceeds of illicit funds – no matter how complex the case.”

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