UK Police Seize 61,000 Bitcoins From Huge Chinese Investment Fraud

The U.K. Metropolitan Police have reportedly seized more than 61,000 bitcoins from a massive Chinese investment fraud. A British citizen is accused of laundering bitcoin for a Chinese fugitive who allegedly stole roughly $6.4 billion from more than 128,000 investors.

British Police Seize Over 61,000 Bitcoins

The U.K. Metropolitan Police have seized more than 61,000 bitcoins from a massive investment fraud in China, marking one of the largest cryptocurrency seizures globally, the Financial Times reported Tuesday.

The bitcoin seizure information was disclosed during a trial of 42-year-old Jian Wen, who is accused of laundering bitcoin for her former employer, Zhimin Qian (also known as Yadi Zhang), an alleged fugitive from China. Wen moved to the U.K. in 2007 from China and became a British citizen in 2018.

At the start of the trial at Southwark Crown Court on Monday, the prosecution informed the jury that the seized BTC originated from an investment fraud conducted by Zhang in China between 2014 and 2017. The U.K. police seized four separate devices containing more than 61,000 bitcoins from a safety deposit box and a residence shared by Wen and Zhang in 2018. The seized bitcoin was valued at nearly $1.8 billion in July 2021 when the police recovered the coins. It has appreciated to $2.6 billion, based on today’s price of $43,049 per BTC.

Zhang allegedly stole $6.4 billion from over 128,000 investors and converted the money into BTC. Prosecutors say she entered London in 2017 using a false identity, but has since fled the U.K. and remains at large.

While pleading not guilty to involvement in the underlying fraud, Wen is accused of knowingly aiding the conversion of Zhang’s bitcoin into cash, jewelry, luxury items, and property. Gillian Jones KC, counsel for the Crown Prosecution Service, was quoted by the Financial Times as saying:

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.

This week, the Saxony state police in Germany also revealed that around 50,000 bitcoins have been seized in a case they described as “the most extensive seizure of bitcoins by law enforcement authorities in the Federal Republic of Germany to date.”

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