$3 Billion In Bitcoin Seized From Chinese Takeaway Worker In UK

Key Takeaways:

  • Jian Wen, a Chinese takeaway worker based in the UK, was found guilty of money laundering after authorities found her in possession of over 61,000 Bitcoin (BTC).
  • The assets, which were worth around $1.7 billion at the time, are valued at around $3.7 billion today, marking the UK's largest-ever cryptocurrency seizure.

Why Was the Bitcoin Seized?

Jian Wen arrived in London in 2017 and quickly left her job at a Chinese takeaway restaurant after seeing an advert for a butler on the Chinese social media app WeChat.

Soon after, Wen moved from her room below the restaurant to a $21,000-per-month mansion in Hampstead. She paid a $40,000 deposit and six months' advance rent despite declaring an income of just $7,525 between 2016 and 2017.

Wen purchased a $31,000 Mercedes and sent her son to a $7,500 per-term private school. However, authorities caught onto her lavish lifestyle after she attempted to purchase two properties worth around $45 million using Bitcoin.

After a lengthy investigation, it was determined that the funds originated from a $6.29 billion Chinese investment scam perpetuated by Yadi Zhang. However, it's reported that Wen had no involvement in the initial fraud.

Referring to Zhang, Wen stated, “We were close… but looking back now, I was badly used,” she said. “I have no idea where she is.”

Police are reportedly looking for Zhang, who is still at large.

What Does This Mean For Bitcoin?

With over $3.5 billion in Bitcoin seized, investors question what will happen to the digital assets.

Presently, around 1.4 million BTC are left to be mined. Data from IntoTheBlock shows that 29% of BTC hasn't moved in more than five years. While whales likely hold some assets, people expect a significant sum to be lost due to crime or accidents.

As crypto seizures ramp up following increased blockchain-based crime, we expect to see a substantial amount of BTC removed from the circulating supply.

Criminals having Bitcoin seized is nothing new. The US government holds an estimated $12.5 billion in Bitcoin, mostly gained from seizures related to illicit activities. While the Forfeiture.gov website has records of some seizures, they are incomplete, so the government's holdings could be even higher.

While some minor sales have occurred, the effects could be severe if the government suddenly decides to sell most of its holdings. Most of these coins will be considered out of circulation, but it raises questions about why governments worldwide continue to stockpile so much Bitcoin.