Vancouver 'fruit importer' found burned, dead in Colombia
A Vancouver man whose body was found burned in Colombia last month is connected to the sprawling investigation into money laundering in this province, according to an investigation by CTV News Vancouver.
The body of Richard Yen Fat Chiu, 47, was discovered by Colombian authorities in a village outside Cucuta, on the Venezuelan border on June 20, news reports from that country say.
Chiu had identified himself as an importer and exporter of fruit when he arrived in the country the day before, according to La Opinion, which said he left a hotel in Cucuta with several men in a red car.
Neighbours in Vancouver recognized a photo published in that newspaper as Chiu, a family man who once rented a $3.6 million house in Kerrisdale with his wife and four children.
They recalled he was often out of town and vague about his job, and paid bills on time, but in cash.
Court documents say Chiu may have led a double life.
Chiu was convicted in 2002 in Massachusetts for conspiracy to distribute and possess heroin, civil forfeiture documents say.
And the RCMP spotted him and the vehicles he drove in back in 2015 as they watched customers of Silver International, an underground bank which has been accused of managing a money laundering operation connected to B.C. casinos worth hundreds of millions of dollars.
During the search of one of the associated businesses, officers found a courier label pointing to a money counter that had been originally delivered to Chiu, the documents say.
Federal prosecutors stayed criminal charges against Silver International and its director in November 2018.
Now, the company is in a battle with authorities to return a home and millions of dollars allegedly connected with crime.
The Director of Civil Forfeiture alleges that drug traffickers from several countries used the company to launder hundreds of millions of dollars each year. The company continues to fight the allegations in court.
B.C. court records show that Chiu does not appear to have been charged with a crime in this province. He was also never personally sued by the Director of Civil Forfeiture.
Attempts by CTV News to reach Chiu’s relatives have been so far unsuccessful.