In a recent legal development, a court in Tongliang, China, situated near Chongqing, has issued sentences to 21 individuals involved in converting the proceeds of online fraud and illegal casinos from Tether (USDT) to Chinese Yuan (RMB).
The total amount involved is a staggering 2.25 billion RMB, equivalent to approximately $307 million.
According to court records, two of the defendants, identified by their surnames Jiang and Zheng, played a central role in recruiting 19 other individuals to participate in the illicit activities.
Court documents reveal that the group utilized a decentralised wallet known as Bitpie, akin to Metamask, to transfer USDT to local peer-to-peer exchanges on virtual currency platforms, subsequently converting it into RMB.
To obscure their activities, the group withdrew the fiat currency in various cities across the country, using deceptive explanations such as project payments and workers’ wages when questioned about the nature of the transfers.
They have been doing so from November 2020 to late April 2021.
Jiang, one of the prime culprits, managed to amass 22.62 million RMB (approximately $3 million) through these operations.
The court has found all members of the group guilty of disguising and concealing criminal proceeds.
They have been subjected to various prison terms and financial penalties.
Jiang received a sentence of six years and three months, accompanied by a fine of 500,000 RMB.
Similarly, Zheng was also fined the same amount and sentenced to six years in prison.
Although the court documents do not explicitly specify the source of the USDT involved in these transactions, it is worth noting that USDT is a commonly used digital asset by fraud rings operating in Southeast Asia.