Big win for the couple
A couple in Canada are getting some of their cash back from the government, despite having been under arrest for allegedly operating a money-laundering scheme.
Jian Jun Zhu and Caixuan Qin, who were arrested in 2017 in British Columbia, got off due to a small technicality. The Canadian government still tried to keep the couple’s assets, which amounted to millions of dollars.
A provincial court has now concluded that there is no case for the government to hold onto these funds. The money is therefore due to be returned to the couple.
A simple error
After a very simple error was discovered, the case against the couple had to be dropped in 2018. When their lawyer was receiving the disclosure of evidence from the prosecution, the identity of one of the police’s secret informants was accidentally revealed. This led to the prosecutors having to end the case due to the informant being under “high risk of death”.
Subsequently, the British Columbia Civil Forfeiture Office sought to keep the CAD2m (USD1.5m) in cash that was seized from the money laundering operation frozen.
However, the British Columbia Supreme Court Associate, Chief Justice Heather Holmes, recently ruled that the forfeiture office did not present a convincing legal argument. This led to the decision for the cash sum to be returned to the couple. Holmes was also the judge in charge of the criminal case against the pair.
There is an appeal process open to the forfeiture office. There is a 30-day window to do so, but a decision is yet to be made. According to a spokesperson,
The Civil Forfeiture Office will be reviewing this decision and will not be commenting further during the appeal period.”
Largest money laundering case in BC
Jian Jun Zhu and Caixuan Qin were the operators of Silver International Investment. The company was supposedly transmitting money as a business, but it allegedly ended up being used as a tool by Chinese high rollers to launder money.
Upon the discovery of the operation, the couple was charged with five counts of money laundering, failing to conduct know-your-customer checks, and possessing property received as a result of criminal activity.
the largest money laundering case in British Columbia’s history
According to estimates from the investigation, the couple was allegedly laundering up to CAD220m (USD166m) each year. This would make it the largest money laundering case in British Columbia’s history.
The pair have constantly maintained their innocence and believe that their Charter rights were violated through the search and seizures.
Criminal links identified
Police were able to identify some of those allegedly using the couple’s operation to launder money.
According to a filing from the Civil Forfeiture Office, the alleged customers of Silver International have extensive criminals links. This includes people with connections to “drug production, trafficking, money laundering, homicide [and] assault.”
There has been a problem with criminals laundering money through British Columbia casinos in this manner for some time. A report called “Dirty Money’ shed light on the issue in 2017 and led to a major crackdown on the province’s casinos soon after.