A millionaire has been convicted of running an illegal money-service business from a Docklands flat after selling designer clothes and goods from Harrods and other luxury outlets to customers in China.
Shunjian Jiang, 28, received payment in Chinese yuan then converted the money into sterling by advertising on internet forums for Chinese expats willing to make the exchanges, laundering £805,824 in the process.
The high-end items included a large amount of Burberry clothes, shoes and accessories, as well as Versace and Diesel garments. He was even given a “black tier” Harrods rewards card in recognition of his lavish spending at the Knightsbridge store.
Investigators from HM Revenue and Customs were alerted by suspicious cash deposits at bank branches around the country and found evidence of the illicit trade in Jiang’s accounts.
They also found about £50,000 worth of designer goods in his flat in the Isle of Dogs at the time of his arrest in August 2016.
His overall spending on clothes for his customers totalled £465,000.
Jiang pleaded guilty at Southwark crown court to operating an unlicensed money-service business, and was handed an eight-month suspended prison sentence on Friday. He was also ordered to do 160 hours of unpaid community work.
Sentencing him, Judge Jeffrey Pegden QC said that Jiang came from a wealthy family in China, who had sent him much of the money he unlawfully exchanged in breach of currency controls in their home country, and expressed surprise that he was still seeking to remain in Britain.
“Very large sums of money came from China to the UK. That sterling, by hundreds of transactions, went into various accounts enabling you to purchase a property in north London,” he said.
“The money you exchanged became criminal property because the business was not registered.”
Jiang, who moved to the UK in 2014 on a Tier 1 investor visa, which required an investment of at least £1 million, was able to buy a £750,000 property in Colindale, Barnet, from the profits of his criminal scheme, which he ran over 18 months from January 2015.
He will face confiscation proceedings to seize his home as investigators seek to recover the full amount of the funds that he illegally exchanged.