Chinese woman charged with immigration fraud remains in US jail

Updated: 2015-04-01 06:08

By LINDA DENG(China Daily)

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Couple alleged to have embezzled money and funneled it out of the country to buy houses

Zhao Shilan, who with her ex-husband has been charged with money laundering and immigration fraud based partly on information from Chinese investigators, remains in jail in Washington state.

She will appear at a hearing on April 6 in Los Angeles where she was indicted.

Kirk Davis, Zhao's attorney, said Zhao was to be released on Monday after a federal hearing in Seattle, but the US government filed an appeal against the move and she is being held without bail.

On March 17, a grand jury indictment in US District Court in Los Angeles charged Zhao, 51, and Qiao Jianjun with three counts of money laundering and immigration fraud.

They are accused of fraudulently obtaining EB-5 immigrant-investor visas to enter the United States and launder money from China. Zhao was arrested at her home in Newcastle, Washington, just outside of Bellevue. Qiao, 51, has not been found.

The US government is considering deporting Zhao to China, but her lawyer, Davis, opposes the move, saying she fears she will be arrested and tortured to reveal the whereabouts of her ex-husband.

The Chinese government, which assisted in the case, has targeted corrupt officials since President Xi Jinping took office in 2012, and has asked the US to help find fugitives who have fled there with money and return them and their money to China.

The US does not have an extradition agreement with China, but alternatives to extradition exist, US officials say, including deportation for violations of US immigration law.

In a story on March 28, the Vancouver Sun traced Zhao's purchase of a British Columbia company and her acquisition of properties.

"Flush with money that she and her ex-husband, Qiao Jianjun, had moved from China through banks in the mainland, Hong Kong and Canada, Zhao first bought a Richmond condo, paying for it outright.

A few months later, on a return trip, she bought a five-bedroom White Rock home, also paying for it outright," the newspaper reported.

Zhao recently put the White Rock property up for sale for $689,000, the Sun said.

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