Fraud victims want China to recover $4.3B worth of Bitcoin seized by UK police

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The victims of an investment fraud scheme facilitated by an electronics company in China are looking to recover $4.3 billion in Bitcoin (BTC) bought with their money with the help of the United Kingdom government.

A group representing the scam victims reportedly submitted a letter to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of China requesting it to negotiate with the U.K. government to recover the seized Bitcoin. 

The funds were taken through a $6.2-billion investment scheme conducted by Tianjin Lantian Gerui Electronic Technology from 2014 to 2017. 

The group, which also contacted China’s Ministry of Public Security, said it collected almost 2,500 signatures from victims and plans to submit them to both ministries.

The letter calls for the Chinese government to cooperate with the U.K. and provide evidence demonstrating their rightful ownership of the Bitcoin. The letter said:

“We do not want, and will never accept, a situation where Bitcoins are confiscated by the UK and not returned to us.”

The U.K. government has not said how it would deal with the Bitcoin seized in the case.

U.K. authorities seized the cryptocurrency after former hospitality worker Jian Wen attempted to launder funds by buying a $30-million mansion with BTC. The purchase failed when Wen could not explain the source of the funds.

Image of the property that Wen attempted to purchase. Source: Sky News

This led to an investigation by the authorities, culminating in a raid on a house in 2021. At the time, police found 61,000 BTC in the property rented by Wen and her boss, Zhimin Qian, the suspected mastermind of the investment fraud scheme.

Related: Couple mistakenly sent $10.5M by Crypto.com to face October plea hearing

The BTC was worth $1.7 billion when it was seized in 2021 but is now worth about $4.3 billion as Bitcoin’s price has since risen.

Wen initially claimed that the Bitcoin had been mined but eventually changed her story, saying it was a “love present” from Qian, who had fled the United Kingdom.

Wen was charged with three counts of money laundering between October 2017 and January 2022. While she denied all the charges, Southwark Crown Court found Wen guilty of money laundering on March 20.

Magazine: $308M crypto laundering scheme busted, Hashkey token, Hong Kong CBDC: Asia Express