British authorities have revealed one of the largest-ever seizures of cryptocurrency, uncovering over $1.7 billion worth of Bitcoin linked to a Chinese investment scam, data Reported by Financial Times
The accumulation of digital assets was seized in 2018 from devices stored in a safe deposit box belonging to Chinese national Jian Wen, London prosecutors said this week. Wen allegedly helped launder Bitcoin for her employer, who is accused of defrauding over 100,000 investors in China between 2014 and 2017.
The 61,000 Bitcoin originated from a fake investment platform run by Chinese businessman Zhimin Qian that pulled in around $6 billion from victims, prosecutors allege. Qian remains at large in China, while Wen is currently on trial in London for money laundering charges.
Authorities claim Wen assisted Qian in converting the illicit crypto funds into cash and other assets like luxury items. The details of the 2018 Bitcoin seizure were only recently disclosed at Wen’s hearing. A note found by police quoted Wen saying, “I’ll be dead if they broke the BTC code.”
At today’s prices, the confiscated Bitcoin is valued at nearly $1.7 billion, making it among cryptocurrency’s biggest law enforcement seizures globally.
Wen was arrested in 2021 when authorities managed to break and access the Bitcoin wallets. How British police obtained encrypted devices and private keys is still unclear.
The case highlights ongoing international coordination to uncover cryptocurrency scams
and transactions linked to crime and money laundering. Wen denies the money laundering accusations, telling police she received 3,000 Bitcoin from Qian as a gift for translation services.
As crypto assets grow more mainstream, regulators worldwide are stepping up oversight of exchanges and developing stricter Anti-Money Laundering rules. However, the market nature of crypto also enables large-scale scams and fraud to lure victims.
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