Friday, October 30, 2020

Man put under surveillance in high-profile money laundering investigation found dead in Colombia: reports

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Richard Yen Fat Chiu arrived in Cúcuta on June 19 and was found dead the next day

A Vancouver man who had been under surveillance in a police investigation into organized money laundering has been found dead in Colombia.

The remains of Richard Yen Fat Chiu, who had been stabbed and burned, were found near the Venezuelan border on June 20, according to Colombian news reports.

Chiu, 47, identified himself as a fruit and vegetable importer when he arrived in Cúcuta on June 19. He met a man in a red car and not long after that disappeared, according to reports in La Opinion.

Global Affairs Canada confirmed they were assisting a family who was searching for a missing Canadian in Colombia, who has died.

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A lawyer representing Chiu’s wife, Kimberly, said his client is “devastated.”

“She says he was a very good husband and father,” said Chris Johnson.

“He was a friendly and intelligent fellow and he talked to me about his fruit importing business that he was quite proud of. He was hard working.”

‘No charge was ever laid’

Chiu, who rented a home in Kerrisdale with his wife and four children, was known to police, but Johnson said he was trying to remake his life.

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“I know that he was under investigation but no charge was ever laid against Richard Chiu,” said Johnson.

Chiu, who had been previously convicted in Massachusetts in 2002 for conspiracy to distribute and possess heroin, was put under police surveillance during the RCMP’s “E-Pirate” investigation, the largest investigation of money laundering in Canada.

But, unlike other suspects, Chiu was never charged criminally in Canada or sued directly by the director of civil forfeiture, his lawyer said.

Wife’s forfeiture case

According to B.C. Supreme Court documents, Chiu had been targeted by Vancouver police in drug investigations. In 2017, as part of an ongoing investigation, police were watching an Audi Q7 leased to Chiu, according to civil forfeiture documents.

Investigators said they observed Chiu’s wife get out of the car and watched a “known gang associate” load a heavy bag into the trunk.

Chiu’s wife was prosecuted in a civil forfeiture case after police seized $317,000 from the Audi. Most of that seized money was found in plastic vacuum-sealed bundles stuffed inside a duffel bag.

The statement of claim says Kimberly Chiu was “acting as a courier for Asian organized crime.”

She denied all allegations and any links to crime in a statement of defence. Her legal team argues that Vancouver police didn’t have lawful grounds to detain or search Chiu. That civil action remains active.

E-Pirate, which probed an alleged underground bank, collapsed last year, prompting B.C.’s attorney general to launch a review.

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