DoJ launches team to tackle cryptocurrency crime in the United States

Rick Steves

The head of the NCET remains to be found. The DoJ is seeking an individual with experience with complex criminal investigations and prosecutions, as well as the technology underpinning cryptocurrencies and the blockchain.

The U.S. Department of Justice has created a National Cryptocurrency Enforcement Team (NCET) which will be supervised by Assistant Attorney General Kenneth A. Polite Jr.

The team will aim to tackle complex investigations and prosecutions of criminal misuses of cryptocurrency, particularly crimes committed by virtual currency exchanges, mixing and tumbling services, and money laundering infrastructure actors.

Combining the expertise of the DoJ Criminal Division’s Money Laundering and Asset Recovery Section (MLARS), Computer Crime and Intellectual Property Section (CCIPS) and other sections in the division, the team will also assist in tracing and recovery of assets lost to fraud and extortion, including cryptocurrency payments to ransomware groups.

Lisa Monaco, Deputy Attorney General, commented: “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.”

Kenneth A. Polite Jr, Assistant Attorney General, said: “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.”

The head of the NCET remains to be found. The DoJ is seeking an individual with experience with complex criminal investigations and prosecutions, as well as the technology underpinning cryptocurrencies and the blockchain.

The NCET will draw and build upon the established expertise across the Criminal Division to deter, disrupt, investigate, and prosecute criminal misuse of cryptocurrency, as well as to recover the illicit proceeds of those crimes whenever possible.

The team will foster the development of expertise in cryptocurrency and blockchain technologies across all aspects of the Department’s work.

It will also play a critical support role for international, federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial law enforcement authorities grappling with these new technologies and new forms of criminal tradecraft.

The NCET will follow the Department’s Cryptocurrency Enforcement Framework, released in October 2020. It will not only pursue its own cases, but also support existing and future cases brought across the Criminal Division and in the U.S. Attorneys’ Offices across the country.

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