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Role in scheme denied

The wives of two Chinese men accused of stealing more than $400 million from the Bank of China distanced themselves Wednesday during opening statements of a racketeering trial from a scheme prosecutors say was orchestrated by their husbands.

Yu Ying Yi and Kuang Wan Fang are on trial along with their husbands, Xu Goujun and Xu Chaofan. They are charged with committing visa and passport fraud, money laundering and conspiracy to transport stolen money.

Xu Goujun and Chaofan were administrators at branches of Bank of China when the scheme began. They are accused of using wire transfers, telegrams, checks and cash to steal $485 million from the bank.

The men and their wives also cashed in for $1 million worth of chips at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas, earning the privilege to fly on the casino’s private jets, according to the federal government.

After the four were arrested, federal agents seized dozens of pieces of pricey jewelry and two properties in British Columbia, Canada.

Jay Litman, who represents Kuang Wan Fang, said his client knew her husband, Xu Chaofan, made millions of dollars as president of the bank.

Litman said she enjoyed traveling and buying jewelry, but didn’t know about a conspiracy to steal money from the bank.

“She had no knowledge of the scheme,” Litman said. “In this case, Ms. Kuang’s knowledge is key.”

Like Travis Shetler, the attorney for Yu Ying Yi, Litman said that during the three-month trial the government will not produce the evidence that shows the women were involved in a crime.

“All she (Yu) knew was that he worked at the Bank of China,” Shetler said of his client, who was arrested four years ago in Wichita, Kan. “Over the years, the money increased and their lifestyles increased. Their lifestyle is not what is on trial here.”

Attorneys representing Xu Chaofan and Xu Goujun deferred their right to make opening statements on Wednesday.

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