Chinese National Charged in Los Angeles for Alleged Money Laundering

Wed 10th June, 2020 Criminal Law

A Chinese national and fugitive was extradited from Sweden to Los Angeles in order to face charges of money laundering. Jianjun Qiao was charged with allegedly conspiring to commit immigration fraud and money laundering with his ex-wife. Facing accusations of criminal activity in the United States and China, Qiao has been on the run in Sweden for the last five years. It is alleged that while working as the director of a state-owned grain storehouse from 1998-2011, he laundered millions of dollars and used the proceeds to purchase two properties in Monterey Park, California as well as real estate in the Seattle area.

Qiao’s ex-wife pled guilty to immigration-related charges in 2017 for lying about their marriage status and the source of foreign investment funds in order to secure EB-5 investor visas from the United States. If convicted of the charges in the indictment, Qiao faces up to 20 years for money laundering. He pled not guilty in his arraignment earlier this week.

What is Money Laundering?

Money laundering is a process meant to conceal the true origin of illegal funds by passing it through a series of complex financial transactions or banking transfers. The end result of the money laundering process is to return “clean” money to the launderer in exchange for the previous “dirty” money. Money laundering is typically a federal charge made in association with other alleged activity, such as drug trafficking or embezzlement.

As a federal offense, a prosecutor must be able to prove beyond a reasonable doubt to a jury that the following occurred:

  • The person accused must conduct or attempt to conduct a financial transaction
  • Knowing that the property involved in the financial transaction represents the proceeds of some unlawful activity
  • With the intent to either promote the carrying on of specified unlawful activity, engage in tax evasion or tax fraud, know that the transaction was designed to conceal or disguise the nature, location, source, ownership or control of proceeds of the specified unlawful activity, or know that the transaction was designed to avoid a transaction reporting requirement under state or federal law, and
  • The property must in fact be derived from an unlawful activity

Penalties for Federal Money Laundering Conviction

Under federal law, the penalties for conviction of money laundering is a prison sentence up to 20 years and a $500,000 fine or twice the amount of money laundered, whichever is greater. In addition, civil penalties may also be imposed after a criminal conviction in the amount of $10,000 or the value of the funds involved in the money laundering conviction, whichever is greater. Given the severe penalties associated with money laundering charges it is critical that you speak with an experienced California criminal defense attorney as soon as you come under suspicion.

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