Two Chinese Nationals Arrested in the U.S. for Laundering $73 Million Linked to Crypto Scams!

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The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) announced that two Chinese nationals have been charged with laundering over $73 million from cryptocurrency investment scams, often referred to as “pig butchering.” The indictment, unsealed in the Central District of California, alleges that Daren Li and Yicheng Zhang orchestrated a complex international money-laundering scheme. A cryptocurrency wallet involved in the scheme received more than $341 million in virtual assets.

Arrests and Charges:

Daren Li, 41, who holds dual citizenship in China and St. Kitts and Nevis, was arrested on April 12 at Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport. Li, residing in China, Cambodia, and the UAE, was transferred to California for prosecution. Yicheng Zhang, 38, a Chinese national residing in Temple City, California, was apprehended in Los Angeles.

The pair are charged with conspiracy to commit money laundering and six counts of international money laundering. If convicted, each charge carries a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison.

Scheme Details

Victims of the fraudulent schemes under investigation were fraudulently induced into transferring millions of dollars to U.S. bank accounts opened in the names of dozens of shell companies whose sole apparent purpose was to facilitate the laundering of fraud proceeds. A network of money launderers then facilitated the transfer of those funds to other domestic and international bank accounts and cryptocurrency platforms in a manner designed to conceal the source, nature, ownership, and control of the funds.

According to court documents, Li and Zhang led a syndicate that defrauded victims through crypto investment scams. The victims were deceived into transferring millions to U.S. bank accounts set up under shell companies. These funds were then moved to accounts at Deltec Bank in The Bahamas and converted into cryptocurrency, specifically USDT (Tether). A cryptocurrency wallet involved in the scheme received more than $341 million in virtual assets.

The defendants allegedly instructed co-conspirators to open these shell company accounts and monitored the laundering process. Communications among the conspirators revealed extensive coordination, including discussions about commissions, shell companies, victim details, and interactions with U.S. financial institutions.

Investigation and Prosecution:

The case is being investigated by the U.S. Secret Service’s Global Investigative Operations Center, with support from various agencies, including Homeland Security Investigations and the Dominican Republic National Drug Directorate. The National Cryptocurrency Enforcement Team (NCET) of the Justice Department is leading the prosecution.

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