Ex-wife of Chinese fugitive to be released

Ex-wife of Chinese fugitive to be released

Zhao Shilan, the ex-wife of a former Chinese official, who was arrested in Washington State on allegations of immigration fraud and money laundering, will be released from custody on Monday, according to her lawyer.

Zhao, who was ordered held without bail at the US government's request after being arrested Tuesday, appeared in federal court in Seattle on Friday morning before US Magistrate Judge Brian Tsuchida. He ordered her released on Monday without any bail set, according to her lawyer, Kirk Davis.

At the hearing the government's lawyer expressed concern that Zhao might flee the country to avoid prosecution in both the US and China, and said she had the financial resources to do so.

According to the lawyer, Zhao has flown frequently between Canada and the US - 20 times since 2011 - and maintains multiple bank accounts, owns a business registered in British Columbia and has two properties there.

Davis, told the judge that Zhao won't flee the US. Zhao's elder son Tom, who is in college in Toronto, and some of her neighbours in Newcastle appeared in court on her behalf.

Davis said she would be released from custody on Monday and that no bail was ordered by the judge.

Zhao, 51, was arrested in Newcastle.

She and her ex-husband, Jianjun Qiao, also 51, are charged in a federal grand jury indictment with conspiracy to commit immigration fraud and international transport of stolen funds, as well as conspiracy to commit money laundering. Zhao also is charged with one count of immigration fraud.

Qiao is being sought.

In an indictment unsealed Tuesday in Los Angeles, the US Justice Department alleged that Qiao Jianjun, the former director of a massive grain storage facility in central China, and Zhao lied about their marriage status as part of a scheme to funnel stolen money into the United States and to immigrate.

It claims the divorced couple bought a home in the Seattle suburb of Newcastle using money from fraudulent transactions at the grain storehouse in Zhoukou City, China.

Ronald Cheng, an assistant US attorney in Los Angeles, said the Justice Department case against Qiao was built partly on evidence provided by Chinese prosecutors and police, Reuters reported. He said US law enforcement officers travelled to Henan province for the case.

In China, both the Supreme People's Procuratorate and Ministry of Public Security provided evidence to their American counterparts, besides helping the US law enforcement officers gather information and conduct interviews in Henan province.

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