Tuesday, November 29, 2022

Second Man Charged in Killing of Vancouver Money Laundering Kingpin

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Posted on: April 29, 2022, 08:21h. 

Last updated on: April 29, 2022, 08:21h.

Vancouver police have charged a second suspect in connection with the 2020 shooting death of alleged money laundering kingpin Jian Jun Zhu, Business in Vancouver reports.

Jian Jun Zhu
Jian Jun Zhu, above, died from a hail of bullets in September 2020. He was the owner of Silver International, a suspected money laundering operation with links to the drug trade. (Image: South China Morning Post)

Yuexi Lei, also known as Alex Lei, 37, appeared in Richmond Provincial Court Thursday. He is charged with two counts of accessory after the fact and one count of accessory after the fact to murder. Police arrested him March 10, according to court filings.

Authorities believe Jian was the center of an operation that washed hundreds of millions of dollars in drug money through British Columbia casinos.

He was gunned down as he ate at a Japanese restaurant in Richmond, British Columbia on September 18, 2020 and died the next day in the hospital. His associate, Paul King Jin, also a suspected money launderer, was injured in the shooting but survived.

Murder Charge

In November 2021, police charged 23-year-old Richard Charles Reed with first-degree murder in relation to the shooting. He is accused of firing the bullet that killed Jiang.

Reed has also been charged with aggravated assault; possessing a firearm with altered serial number; possessing a loaded, prohibited or restricted firearm; unlawful discharge of a firearm; and discharge a firearm with intent to wound/disfigure.

Lei is scheduled to appear in court on May 4 on unrelated stolen property and firearms offenses.

Jian, with his wife Caixuan Qin, owned Silver International, a currency exchange firm in Richmond that investigators believe was an underground bank with links to the international drug trade.

The operation may have laundered up to $250 million a year through British Columbia’s casino sector. It was a primary example of what came to be known to the international intelligence community as the “Vancouver model” of money laundering.

Vancouver Model

Typically, this involves underground banks receiving cash from drug cartels and other criminal outfits, who are paid an equivalent sum via bank transfer. Meanwhile, Chinese citizens who want to circumvent strict controls on moving money out China make payments into Chinese bank accounts controled by the underground bank.

When they arrive in Vancouver, the Chinese citizens are paid in dirty cash, which is accepted by local casinos and converted into chips, which can later be cashed out in check form.

Jian and Qin were prosecuted in 2018 in what was billed as Canada’s biggest ever money laundering case. But it quickly fell apart when prosecutors inadvertently released the name of a key government informant to the defense during a routine evidence disclosure.

The judge determined that to continue with the trial would put the witness “at risk of death.”

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