The Rise and Fall of China’s ‘Bitcoin Queen’

Jian Wen came to Britain to ‘enjoy the better things in life’.

The 42-year-old drove an E-Class Mercedes-Benz, enjoyed a £30,000 Harrods shopping spree and enrolled her son in the prestigious £6,000-per-term Heathside Preparatory School, near her £5 million home.

It wasn’t until she started building a global property empire, attempting to buy a £23 million Hampstead mansion, a £10 million Tuscan villa and apartments in Dubai, that alarm bells started ringing about the single mother who barely earns £ 5,000 to her name when she arrived in Britain to work in a Chinese takeaway.

Yesterday, the Chinese immigrant who helped launder Bitcoin following a £5 billion investment fraud was jailed for more than six years.

Judge Sally-Ann Hales QC said Wen played a key role in a sophisticated criminal enterprise that was “generously rewarded” for her work in laundering the proceeds of an asset management scam in China where 128,000 investors were duped.

Jian Wen (pictured) came to Britain to “enjoy the better things in life”
Wen tried to buy a £23million Hampstead mansion (pictured) – setting off alarm bells over the source of the money

Police have linked Wen’s accounts to a staggering £3.4 billion worth of cryptocurrency, which she helped a fraudster launder in Britain.

A receipt for £75,000 worth of diamonds purchased in Zurich

After moving to Britain in 2007, Wen ended up living under a Chinese restaurant in London, earning just £5,979 a year.

But her life changed after she saw an advertisement on Chinese social media app WeChat showing her as a “butler” for a woman claiming to run an international company dealing in diamonds and antiques.

Just weeks after meeting the woman at a five-star hotel in Kensington, Wen moved into a £5million six-bedroom mansion near Hampstead Heath, rented for £17,000 a month.

The pair traveled the world, vacationing in Europe, Thailand and Dubai under various aliases, while Wen opened a series of cryptocurrency accounts and kept meticulous notes of transactions in a notebook kept by Wallace and Gromit.

They sold Bitcoin and bought fine jewellery, splurging on more than £44,000 worth of gemstones at Christopher Walser Vintage Diamonds in Zurich, and watches worth £119,000 from Van Cleef & Arpels.

In three months, more than £90,000 was spent in Harrods on designer clothes, jewelery and shoes using a rewards card in Wen’s name.

She bought two apartments in Dubai for more than £500,000 and was considering buying a £10 million 18th-century Tuscan villa with sea views.

Wen then tried to buy a £23.5 million seven-bedroom Hampstead mansion with a swimming pool and a nearby £12.5 million house with a cinema and gym.

Wen lived in a basement room beneath a Chinese takeaway in Abbey Wood, south-east London. But within weeks she moved into this fantastic six-bedroom house in Hampstead Heath, paying £17,000 a month in rent in September 2017.
Wen flew throughout Europe, including to Germany. She denied knowing she was involved in money laundering and insisted she was duped by her boss
Police found stacks of cash during searches linked to Jian Wen
Jian Wen took meticulous notes in a Wallace and Gromit notebook, showing what was being bought and sold in crypto. In this one she said: ‘I’ll be dead if they break the BTC code’ – BTC is a reference to Bitcoin

But the spending spree prompted anti-money laundering controls and purchases were halted after she could not explain where the Bitcoin she wanted to use to pay for the properties came from.

Wen initially claimed that the cryptocurrency had been mined, but then said it was given to her as a “love gift.”

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Scotland Yard launched a major investigation into Britain’s largest ever cryptocurrency seizure in 2021, when more than 61,000 Bitcoin was discovered in digital wallets hidden in a safe.

The cryptocurrency was worth £1.4 billion at the time, but its value has now risen to £3.4 billion.

Wen insisted she had been duped by her boss.

Her barrister Mark Harris QC said: ‘Mrs Wen was a vulnerable, desperate woman whose self-esteem could not have been at a very high level at all.

‘She was a vulnerable woman. No doubt she has been deceived and used.” But Judge Hales told the defendant: ‘I have no doubt that you have come to enjoy the better things in life.

“The evidence showed that you were generously rewarded for your services.

‘It is argued on your behalf that your guilt lies somewhere in the middle. I do not agree with it. The crime was sophisticated and involved significant planning.

Wen poses in the Lindt store in Zurich during one of her trips to Europe. She claimed it was to purchase items for a jewelry store, which produced receipts for diamonds and watches
Wen also went to Norway on business. It was an incredible transformation for a woman who had lived above or below Chinese takeaways for years

‘I do not agree that your involvement in the crime was the result of any element of exploitation.

“I disagree with your counsel’s characterization of you as a victim.”

Wen was sentenced at Southwark Crown Court to six years and eight months for becoming involved in a money laundering scheme between October 2017 and January 2022.

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