Bank of China trial an understated story

With little fanfare and almost no initial media attention, defendants in the recent Bank of China money laundering trial in Las Vegas were sentenced to long prison terms following convictions on stealing $485 million.

The defendants used Las Vegas casinos to launder some of their ill-gotten fortune, wagering from $20,000 to $80,000 per hand at resorts that to my knowledge have never been identified publicly. Here’s a portion of the government media release:

“WASHINGTON—Two former managers of the Bank of China and their wives were sentenced today after their convictions on Aug. 29, 2008, by a federal jury in Las Vegas on charges of racketeering, money laundering, international transportation of stolen property as well as passport and visa fraud, Assistant Attorney General Lanny A. Breuer of the Criminal Division and U.S. Attorney Gregory A. Brower of the District of Nevada announced today.

“U.S. District Judge Philip M. Pro sentenced Xu Chaofan aka Hui Yat Fai to 25 years in prison, Xu Guojun aka Hui Kit Shun to 22 years in prison, Kuang Wan Fang aka Wendy Kuang to eight years in prison and Yu Ying Yi to eight years in prison. All four defendants were sentenced to three years of supervised release and ordered to pay $482 million in restitution. Denaturalization proceedings against Kuang Wan Fang and Yu Ying Yi have been initiated by the government.

“Evidence presented during the trial established the elaborate scheme to defraud the Bank of China of at least $485 million, orchestrated by former managers Xu Chaofan, Xu Guojun and a third former bank manager, Yu Zhendong aka Yu Wing Chung, who pleaded guilty in connection with this investigation and cooperated with the United States. According to information presented in court, the scheme involved efforts by the bank managers to launder the stolen money through Hong Kong, Canada and the United States, among other countries, and then immigrate to the United States from China with their wives by obtaining false identities and entering into sham marriages with naturalized U.S. citizens. Evidence also proved that the bank managers’ true wives, Kuang Wan Fang and Yu Ying Yi, assisted their husbands in laundering the proceeds of the fraudulent scheme and violated U.S. immigration laws by entering this country illegally and then securing U.S. citizenship and passports through fraudulent means.

“All five defendants were charged with engaging in a RICO conspiracy that began in 1991 and continued until October 2004 when the former bank managers and their wives were arrested. The underlying racketeering activities included engaging in monetary transactions with stolen money, transportation of stolen money, passport fraud and visa fraud. Evidence presented at trial established that the former bank managers created a number of shell corporations in Hong Kong and with the assistance of others funneled the bank’s money into these companies as well as numerous personal bank and investment accounts. Assisted by their wives, relatives and others, the former bank managers then laundered the stolen proceeds through Canada and the United States. Evidence presented at trial included a significant number of transactions with the stolen money through Las Vegas casinos, including bets at the casinos that ranged from $20,000 up to $80,000.”