Two Chinese Canadians suspected by authorities of involvement in a billion-dollar casino money laundering scheme were shot Friday evening at a Japanese restaurant in Richmond, British Columbia. One of the men, Jian Jun Zhu, 44, died at the scene. The other, Paul King Jin, was hospitalized and has since been released, police said.
Both men were the subjects of British Columbia’s biggest money-laundering investigation, Operation E-Pirate, which ended in disaster when the prosecutions collapsed.
On Monday, police appealed for witnesses in the “brazen” and “targeted” shooting, and for anyone who might have dashcam footage taken near the Manzo Itamae Japanese Restaurant at Garden City on the evening of September 18.
Who Was Jian Jun Zhu?
Jian, along with his wife Caixuan Qin, operated Silver International, which investigators claim was a front for an underground bank with links to the international drug trade.
It is believed Silver International washed around $250 million a year through British Columbia’s casino sector and property markets.
The case against Jian and Qin was stayed in November 2018 after the name and details of a secret police informant were accidentally released during a standard evidence disclosure to the defendants’ lawyer. It was determined that continuing with the prosecution would place the informant at a “high risk of death.”
Charges Against Jin
Moneylender and illegal casino operator Jin was the initial target of Operation E-Pirate. He was suspected of money laundering because of his involvement in nocturnal deliveries of large amounts of cash to high-stakes gamblers in and around the province’s casinos.
In October 2015, investigators observed him traveling between Silver’s offices and various locations with “suitcases, boxes, and bags containing large amounts of cash.”
Prosecutors are currently considering whether to charge Jin with a crime. In February of this year, BC’s Civil Forfeiture Office (FCO) launched legal proceedings to seize a $25,000 bank draft made out by Jin to Great Canadian Casinos.
The suit argued the money was the product of money-laundering, conspiracy, keeping a common gaming house, extortion, and failure to declare taxable income.
How Does the Vancouver Model Work?
The prevalence of money laundering in British Columbia, fully uncovered in 2017, caused a national scandal in Canada amid accusations it had been covered up by the previous provincial government. Lax money laundering controls meant that the province had become a “laundromat for organized crime,” according to a subsequent independent investigation, commissioned by AG David Eby.
So extensive was the problem, in fact, that the international intelligence community had taken to referring to the system preferred by Jian and Silver for washing criminal proceeds as “the Vancouver Model.”
According to authorities, Silver would receive cash from drug cartels and other criminal gangs, who were repaid via equivalent transactions into a network of 600 Chinese bank accounts.
The cash would then be lent to Chinese high rollers visiting the province on gambling junkets, eager to circumvent restrictions on the movement of cash out of China.
Then it would be converted into chips and sunk into the casino economy, or returned to the high rollers in check form. They would settle up with Silver on their return to China.