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Second man charged with murder in 2020 Richmond Japanese restaurant slaying

Yuexi “Alex” Lei, 37, was originally arrested March 10 on two counts of accessory after the fact and one count of accessory after the fact in relation to the murder ofAlleged underground banker Jian Jun Zhu
Alleged underground banker Jian Jun Zhu was gunned down at a Richmond restaurant | IHIT photo

A second man is accused of first-degree murder in connection to the 2020 killing of a key figure in B.C.’s casino money laundering scandal.

Yuexi “Alex” Lei, 37, was originally arrested March 10 on two counts of accessory after the fact and one count of accessory after the fact to murder. 

Lei was already in custody when he was served a new warrant for additional charges on Friday. He appeared in B.C. Supreme Court Monday by video to schedule a one-hour bail hearing on Sept. 22. 

“Mr. Lei is now charged with first-degree murder, attempt murder and reckless discharge of a firearm for the September 18, 2020 incidents along with co-accused Richard Reed,” said Daniel McLaughlin, spokesman for the B.C. Prosecution Service. 

Last November, the Integrated Homicide Investigation Team announced the first-degree murder charge against Reed, 23, for the Sept. 18, 2020, fatal shooting of Jian Jun Zhu, 44.

Reed was also charged with aggravated assault; possessing a firearm with altered serial number; possessing a loaded, prohibited or restricted firearm; unlawful discharge of a firearm; and discharge a firearm with intent to wound/disfigure.

Zhu was shot at the Manzo Japanese Restaurant on Cambie and Capstan in Richmond and died the next day in hospital. A second victim, Paul King Jin, survived.

Zhu was well-known to Richmond RCMP as the man behind the underground Richmond bank Silver International Ltd. that was accused of laundering $200 million annually. A criminal case against Zhu and director Caixuan Qin collapsed in November 2018 and the charges were stayed when federal prosecutors inadvertently exposed the name of an informant.

Jin was banned from B.C. casinos in 2012, and the B.C. government alleged in a 2020 civil forfeiture lawsuit that he used proceeds of crime to buy a boxing and mixed martial arts gym at the south end of No. 5 Road.

The World Champion Club gym, a kilometre south of the Richmond RCMP headquarters, became the North American training base for China’s national boxing team, hosted social events with local allies of the People’s Republic of China consulate and the Chinese Communist Party, and even a 2019 provincial government news conference featuring then-BC NDP sport minister Lisa Beare.

Commissioner Austin Cullen, in his June-released final report on the B.C. money laundering public inquiry, said the predominant purpose of Jin’s money-lending activity was to facilitate high-stakes gamblers making large cash buy-ins at Lower Mainland casinos. Cullen also found that most, if not all, of the cash left at Silver International “was derived from profit-oriented criminal activity such as drug trafficking.”

Lei’s co-accused Reed was charged separately earlier this year on sexual assault, child pornography and imitation weapons charges stemming from incidents in December 2020 and January 2021.