A former assistant US attorney who helped bat down the appeal of Silk Road founder Ross Ulbricht has been named director of the Department of Justice’s (DoJ) new crypto crime task force.
Cybersecurity specialist prosecutor Eun Young Choi also brought the only successful prosecution from the “Panama Papers” leak, which exposed money laundering and dirty financial deeds across the globe.
Choi steps up as head of the National Cryptocurrency Enforcement Team (NCET) after recently serving as senior counsel on cybersecurity to Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco.
“The department [DoJ] has been at the forefront of investigating and prosecuting crimes involving digital currencies since their inception,” said Choi in a statement.
“The NCET will play a pivotal role in ensuring that as the technology surrounding digital assets grows and evolves, the department, in turn, accelerates and expands its efforts to combat their illicit abuse by criminals of all kinds,” she added, our emphasis.
DoJ crypto squad on a high after Razzlekhan
Announced last October, NCET will operate as a watchdog over crypto exchanges and work to return digital assets lost to cybercriminals
“If we’re going to see — as I think we will — cryptocurrency gaining more traction and gaining wider adoption, we’ve got to make sure that the ecosystem that they operate in can be trusted and, frankly, can be policed,” said Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco (via Bloomberg).
“We’re going to make it our business to go after them and get those proceeds back and make it clear to them that they can’t hide.”
According to blockchain analytics firm Chainalysis, crime remains a small portion of total crypto transaction volume.
Although, Bloomberg noted that Chainalysis had detected an 80% jump last year, bringing illicit crypto proceeds to $14 billion for 2021.
In any case, the DoJ likely wants to maintain momentum after the arrest of a married couple who allegedly attempted to launder $3.6 billion in Bitcoin lost to Bitfinex hackers in 2016.
Heather Morgan and her husband Ilya ‘Dutch’ Lichtenstein allegedly used some of the blacklisted Bitcoin to buy gift cards and non-fungible tokens.
Morgan’s online rap personality Razzlekhan is probably more notable than her crypto laundering skills. Morgan has since been released on bail while Lichtenstein remains behind bars.
Looking for bite-sized news? We’re on Twitter.