gavel on a laptop

U.S. authorities have charged a pair of Chinese citizens for allegedly laundering the proceeds of cryptoasset investment scams.

In an indictment that was unsealed in California, Daren Li, a 41-year-old dual citizen of China and St. Kitts and Nevis, and Yicheng Zhang, a 38-year-old Chinese citizen and California resident, have both been arrested and charged with conspiracy to commit money laundering and six counts of international money laundering.

According to court filings, Li and Zhang allegedly operated an international money laundering scheme that used dozens of shell companies to hide the origin and ownership of the proceeds of so-called “pig butchering” crypto scams — which involve fraudsters using fake online personas to lure victims into phony investment schemes.

Authorities allege that more than US$73 million was laundered through U.S. financial institutions to offshore bank accounts and then converted to crypto assets such as Tether.

“A cryptocurrency wallet involved in the scheme received more than US$341 million in virtual assets,” the DoJ said.