A man who had been charged with first-degree murder and attempted murder after a 2020 gangland shooting in a Richmond restaurant pleaded guilty last week to a lesser charge.
Yuexi “Alex” Lei, 38, was originally arrested in March of 2022 on two counts of accessory after the fact and one count of accessory after the fact to murder. Last September, while in custody, charges against Lei were upgraded, alleging he played a greater role in the shooting of two men connected to the notorious underground Richmond bank that was busted for laundering hundreds of millions of dollars through casinos.
Silver International Ltd. mastermind Jian Jun Zhu died the day after the Sept. 18, 2020 incident at the Manzo Itamae Japanese Restaurant. Paul King Jin, the subject of several criminal and civil money laundering and loan sharking investigations, survived the shooting.
On May 29, Lei pleaded guilty to accessory after the fact to murder, unlawful possession of a firearm with readily accessible ammunition and unlawful possession of a prohibited weapon.
He is scheduled to be sentenced in B.C. Supreme Court on Oct. 20 by Justice Janet Winteringham.
Richard Charles Reed, who is charged with first-degree murder and attempted murder, is set for trial in April 2024, said Daniel McLaughlin, spokesperson for the BC Prosecution Service (BCPS). The murder and attempted murder charges against Lei were “discontinued as part of a resolution agreement,” McLaughlin said.
“Prosecutors conduct resolution discussions based on the principles of fairness, openness, accuracy, non-discrimination and the public interest,” McLaughlin said. “The entirety of the information known to Crown counsel is taken into account, including information that is oftentimes not in the public domain. As the matter remains before the court the BCPS will have no further comment at this time with respect to the facts of these particular charges or the specific process by which the resolution in this case was achieved.”
Jin is the defendant in four civil forfeiture lawsuits, including one related to a Richmond gym that hosted events for Chinese Communist Party supporters. His role in loaning sums of cash to whale gamblers from Mainland China at Richmond casinos was probed during the Cullen Commission public inquiry into money laundering. Jin was not called to testify.
RCMP officers investigated Jin during their E-Pirate and E-Nationalize operations. The former collapsed in 2018 before defendants Zhu and Caixuan Qin could be tried. In March, the BCPS announced there would be no charges against Jin stemming from E-Nationalize.
A special prosecutor, who was secretly appointed a year earlier, concluded there was no substantial likelihood or reasonable prospect of convicting Jin for money laundering offences between February and May 2017.
“Regrettably, the challenge of proving a viable predicate offence, given the wording of the current legislation, combined with the complexity of an enormous data set in a foreign language, have conspired to make the prospects for conviction poor, despite the best efforts of many dedicated officers,” wrote lawyer Chris Considine.