Civil forfeiture office targets $3.2-million West Van home

Lawsuit claims Chelsea Court property proceeds of money laundering

The director of civil forfeiture has filed a lawsuit claiming this house at 2738 Chelsea Court was part of a money laundering scheme. The registered owner has denied those claims | Photo: BC Assessment

B.C.’s Director of Civil Forfeiture has filed a claim in B.C. Supreme Court asking that a $3.2-million West Vancouver home be turned over to the government as the proceeds of money laundering.

The eight-bedroom six-bathroom house, at 2738 Chelsea Court, was added June 3 to a claim by B.C.’s Civil Forfeiture Office, which has already made a claim against a $765,000 condo on Jones Road in Richmond, as well as a 2011 Porsche 911 and almost $4.9 million in Canadian currency, alleging they are the proceeds of crime.

The lawsuit claims that Yuanyuan Jia, the registered owner of both the Chelsea Court house and the Jones Road condo in Richmond, acted as a “nominee owner or ‘owner of convenience’”on behalf of her uncle, Paul King Jin.

The Director of Civil Forfeiture alleges Jin was running illegal gambling houses at two addresses in Richmond and an unlicensed money services business.

Jin and his wife Xiaoqi Wei allegedly “used their bank accounts as well as the bank accounts of their parents to transmit large amounts of money from China to Canada as part of the defendants’money laundering and unlawful gambling enterprise,”according to the statement of claim.

The Director of Civil Forfeiture claims one of the ways the couple laundered money was by buying or paying deposits towards property, including the Chelsea Court property.

Jia “knew or ought to have known”the manner in which the two properties were being used, or was wilfully blind to that, according to the claim.

In a response filed in court July 26, however, Jia denied “any knowledge of the alleged unlawful activity”with respect to the two properties.

Jia also denied Jin “is or ever has been”the beneficial or “true”owner of the Richmond or West Vancouver properties.

Jia states in her response that she has lived at the West Vancouver home since she bought it in October 2016 and “denies that any of the funds used to acquire and/or maintain the Jones Road Property or the Chelsea Road property were proceeds of unlawful activity and/or tax evasion.”

The court fight over the West Vancouver house is the latest fallout from the RCMP’s E-Pirate investigation into large-scale money laundering through B.C. casinos.

In the notice of civil claim originally filed in court on March 15, the Director of Civil Forfeiture named Jin and several family members including his wife, his niece, his father, Gong Ping Jia; his mother, Hua Wan; and Ming Kang Ye, an alleged “nominee owner”for Jin on a Porsche 911.

Jin has past convictions for aggravated assault, sexual assault and sexual exploitation, according to the claim, and he and his associates were allegedly related to more than $23.5 million in casino transactions between June 2012 and June 2015 involving “cash deliveries to high-stakes gamblers at casinos in the Lower Mainland.”

During the police investigation, the claim states, Jin was observed travelling between the condo on Jones Road, alleged underground bank Silver International and a massage parlour he owned, the Water Cube in Richmond, as well as an alleged illegal gambling house with “suitcases, boxes and bags containing large amounts of cash.”

Search warrants executed in October 2015 netted millions in cash, casino chips, iPhones, jewelry and other items including high-end liquor and purported “promissory notes,”which Jin allegedly used to secure underground debts under the guise of loans for home renovations, according to the claim. Police also seized $25,000 in casino chips from the River Rock Casino, $10,000 in chips from the Edgewater Casino and a document entitled Baccarat Business Plan for Richmond Private Clubhouse.

“Several of the promissory note debtors lodged complaints with police that Mr. Jin and/or his associates were threatening physical violence or had perpetrated physical violence in order to collect on the promissory notes,”the claim states.

In February 2013, the claim alleges, a male working for Jin attempted to kidnap the child of one of the debtors, but the man was arrested by the Vancouver Police Department that day, the claim states.

The Director of Civil Forfeiture alleges that Jin made more than $32 million in profits from his gaming houses between June and October 2015 alone.

Meanwhile, Jin and his wife reported an average combined income over a five-year period of just under $30,000 to the Canada Revenue Agency.

Scotiabank also filed a response to the claim, opposing only portions of the civil forfeiture claim which would give the civil forfeiture office's claim priority over the bank's mortgage loan registered against the property.

The civil forfeiture office is only seeking the owner's interest in the property, according to the statement of claim and has proposed an order protecting the interests of the mortgage holders.

No other response to the case has been filed in court and none of the allegations in the statement of claim or responses have been tested in court.

–with files from Business in Vancouver

North Shore News