The DoJ is setting up a cryptocurrency enforcement team to tackle complex investigations and prosecutions of criminal misuses of cryptocurrency.
The team will focus on crimes committed by virtual currency exchanges, mixing and tumbling services, and money laundering infrastructure actors. The NCET will also assist in tracing and recovery of assets lost to fraud and extortion, including cryptocurrency payments to ransomware groups.
“Today we are launching the National Cryptocurrency Enforcement Team to draw on the Department’s cyber and money laundering expertise to strengthen our capacity to dismantle the financial entities that enable criminal actors to flourish — and quite frankly to profit — from abusing cryptocurrency platforms. As the technology advances, so too must the Department evolve with it so that we’re poised to root out abuse on these platforms and ensure user confidence in these systems”, said Deputy Attorney General Monaco.
“The Criminal Division is already an established leader in investigating and prosecuting the criminal misuse of cryptocurrency. The creation of this team will build on this leadership by combining and coordinating expertise across the Division in this continuously evolving field to investigate and prosecute the fraudulent misuse, illegal laundering, and other criminal activities involving cryptocurrencies”, said Assistant Attorney General Polite.
The head of the NCET will report to the Assistant Attorney General in the Criminal Division and will lead the team of attorneys to identify, investigate, support, and pursue cases against cryptocurrency exchanges, infrastructure providers, and other entities that are enabling the misuse of cryptocurrency and related products to commit or facilitate criminal activity.
The team awaits its leader, who should be an individual with experience with complex criminal investigations and prosecutions, as well as the technology underpinning cryptocurrencies and the blockchain.
The NCET will be responsible for an extensive list of tasks, including:
– Investigate and prosecute cryptocurrency cases, comprising a central part of a nationwide enforcement effort to combat the use of cryptocurrency as an illicit tool.
– Develop strategic priorities for investigations and prosecutions involving cryptocurrency, in consultation with the USAOs, Department components, and investigative agencies involved in cryptocurrency investigations.
– Identify areas for increased investigative and prosecutorial focus, including professional money launderers, ransomware schemes, human traffickers, narcotics traffickers, and financial institutions working with cryptocurrency.
– Build and enhance relationships with cryptocurrency focused AUSAs and prosecutors with other Department litigating components and offices to pursue cryptocurrency investigations and prosecutions.
– Develop and maintain relationships with federal, state, local, and international law enforcement agencies that investigate and prosecute cryptocurrency cases.
– Train and advise federal prosecutors and law enforcement agencies in developing investigative and prosecutorial strategies. Such training and advice will include providing guidance concerning search and seizure warrants, restraining orders, criminal and civil forfeiture allegations, indictments, and other pleadings.
– Support the coordination and sharing of information and evidence among law enforcement offices to maximize the effectiveness of the Department’s investigations, prosecutions, and forfeitures involving cryptocurrency.
– Collaborate and build relationships with private sector actors with expertise in cryptocurrency matters to further the criminal enforcement mission.