Two suspects were reportedly nabbed for allegedly conspiring to launder cryptocurrencies valued at $4.5 billion (33,000 crore). The arrest manifested in the early hours of today in Manhattan. According to reports, the cryptocurrencies became stolen following a hack on virtual currency exchange, identified as Bitfinex in 2016. However, the two suspects became nabbed in an attempt to allegedly engage in the laundering of the stolen crypto. As things stand, law enforcement, already seized cryptocurrencies linked to the hack, which are approximately worth $3.6 billion in valuation.
The Deputy Attorney General, Lisa O. Monaco maintained that the arrest of the two suspects and the seizure of some linked crypto remains a good development. He furthered that the development proves criminals cannot hide under the anonymity of crypto to initiate criminality. According to him, the two suspects intended to take advantage of this anonymity to launder pilfered digital funds. Monaco averred they wanted to employ a labyrinth of cryptocurrency transactions to carry out the criminal act before the effort of the law enforcers caught up with them. He, however, commended the works of the law enforcement operatives for showing that it is up to the task to monitor the flow of money in whatever form it takes.
The Assistant Attorney General, Kenneth, Polite Jr in his remark, also commended the federal law enforcement department. Polite Jr maintained that the works of the department show the monitory of money remains possible with blockchain. He further that the usage of crypto as a platform to perpetuate all forms of lawlessness remains resisted in the country. According to him, the arrests of the suspects send a signal to all planning to use digital currencies for criminality.
Charges levelled against the two suspects
Accordingly, one of the charges leveled against the two suspects remains connected to the conspiracy to initiate money laundering. This, if found guilty amounts to a maximum sentence of 20 years. The other indictment leveled against them entails a conspiracy to defraud the United State. This, however, also amount to about 5 years imprisonment if found guilty. As expected, the judge of the federal district court remains mandated to consider the U.S Sentences and Other Statutory factors to decide their fates.
Furthermore, the department indicted the two suspects of employing several strategies in a futile attempt to engage in laundering. The tools allegedly employed include setting up online accounts with false identities, programming the computer to automate transactions. The transaction automation strategy, however, enhances the manifestation of many transactions within a short period. The suspects, according to the department further deposited stolen crypto into various accounts in some crypto exchanges. They reportedly withdrew the funds; a development that erased all the transactional history trail. Lichtenstein and Morgan also changed bitcoin to other forms of crypto and deployed a U.S oriented business account to perpetuate the alleged acts
The department, already scheduled the two suspects, identified as Ilya Lichtenstein, 34, and his wife, Heather Morgan, 32 to appear before the court. As confirmed by reports, they will be heard at the Federal Court today in Manhattan around 3:00 pm.
The prosecutors of the case are Trial Attorneys Jessica Peck and C.Alden Pelker from the justice department of the Computer Crime and Intellectual Property Section. Both of them will be assisted by Attorney Christopher B.Brown from the U.S attorney department for Columbia’s district.