What the new DOJ Cryptocurrency Enforcement Team means for Crypto Exchanges and other entities that facilitate digital asset transactions

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The Justice Department has been touting its success in prosecuting crypto-related misconduct for years. It has indicted individuals for delivering digital ransomware; Closure of child pornography websites that relied on virtual currency accounts; and dismantles terrorist financing campaigns fueled by cryptocurrency donations. The government also announced its latest success in seizing billions of dollars worth of cryptocurrencies attributable to illegal activities on the dark web, including ransomware payments. The main focus of the DOJ was on the criminal actors themselves and not necessarily on the companies that facilitate illegal transactions in digital assets. That should change now.

On October 6, 2021, Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco announced the creation of a National Cryptocurrency Enforcement Team (NCET), a group of federal prosecutors from the Money Laundering Asset Recovery Division (MLARS), the Cybercrime and Intellectual Property Division ( CCIPS) and other US assistant attorneys served by US attorneys’ offices across the country. NCET stands ready to “investigate, support and prosecute cases against cryptocurrency exchanges, infrastructure providers and other entities that enable the misuse of cryptocurrency and related products to commit or facilitate criminal activity”. This announcement represents a significant shift in focus from the criminal actors themselves to the companies that the government believes will provide the services and technologies in the crypto space to make the crimes possible.


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