The widow of Raymond Huang Hong Chao, a Vancouver man who was killed in a high-profile gangland ambush, is in custody in Hong Kong after she was convicted of laundering proceeds of crime from Canada.
The 45-year-old Mr. Huang was shot dead outside his $5-million mansion in 2007. He was known to police, and the Vancouver Sun and The Province quoted sources describing him as a senior figure in the Big Circle Boys, a gang with roots in southern China.
His widow, Yuan Gui Ying, a Chinese-born Canadian citizen, was arrested three years later as she entered Hong Kong from mainland China with keys to several safety deposit boxes on her.
Last month, Hong Kong’s Court of Appeal upheld Ms. Yuan’s 2010 conviction on one count of conspiracy and one count of dealing with property known or believed to represent the proceeds of an indictable offence. She was sentenced to six years and three months in prison.
According to the prosecution, while in Canada, Ms. Yuan funnelled $8-million to 18 bank accounts that she and close relatives held in Hong Kong.
The money came in Canadian, American, Australian, Japanese and Hong Kong currencies, the ruling said, noting that “the transactions carried odd features such as splitting the deposits, and the use of cashier orders; there was no reliable evidence as to any legitimate source for these substantial sums.”
Mr. Huang and Ms. Yuan married in 1987 in China. She immigrated to Canada in 1995 and gained citizenship. He became a permanent resident in 2000.
They lived in Vancouver’s affluent Shaughnessy neighbourhood, in a six-bedroom Provence-style property owned by a retiree, Wang Mei Zhen, who bought the property from Ms. Yuan in 2006.
Ms. Wang is Ms. Yuan’s mother, according to the Hong Kong court ruling.
Though she wrote on her Hong Kong bank mandate forms that she is a housewife, Ms. Yuan described herself as a businesswoman when she bought the Vancouver property in 2003.
On Nov. 3, 2007, Mr. Huang was returning home when he was shot several times outside his house, late on a Saturday evening. His daughter, Samantha, who was 10 at the time, called 9-1-1.
“Investigators believe this was a targeted homicide. Mr. Huang is known to other police agencies,” Vancouver police said at the time.
Mr. Huang’s killing made national headlines, coming two weeks after the worst gangland slaying in British Columbia history, when six men, including two innocent victims, were murdered in a penthouse in Surrey.
Although he was not a client, Mr. Huang had placed a sign for a security company in front of his home. The firm reported a surge in business after his death.
His daughter, Samantha, attended a prestigious private school, West Point Grey Academy, The Province reported.
Media reports also focused on the Big Circle Boys, a gang that entered Canada via Vancouver around 1986 and became involved in drug trafficking and credit-card fraud, according to police testimony before parliamentary committees.
At her trial in Hong Kong, Ms. Yuan said the money she deposited in Hong Kong came from a family business in Guangdong province.
She also kept $1-million in cash in two deposit boxes at Hang Seng Bank. She said that money came from Mr. Huang’s life insurance and she produced an affirmation from one Justin-Luc Ricard of Industrial Alliance Insurance and Financial Services Inc. in Quebec to support her claim.
She kept the insurance proceeds in cash, she testified, because she was trying to hide it from her late husband’s mistress.
The judges didn’t believe her. “No admissible or credible evidence was led to show that she had a substantial legitimate source of income such as might account for anything like the sums held in the accounts,” the ruling said.
Among the mitigating factors they cited in the sentencing was that Ms. Yuan has a son in his 20s in China, Yi-Long, who suffers from a congenital brain problem, and that her teenaged daughter is still in Canada.