Panama Papers and Silk Road prosecutor to head DoJ’s Crypto team

Rick Steves

Eun Young Choi has been a vital piece in some of DoJ’s high-profile enforcement actions, including Silk Road and the Panama Papers.

The Justice Department has appointed Eun Young Choi to serve as the first Director of the National Cryptocurrency Enforcement Team (NCET).

NCET was launched in October 2021 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.

The prosecutor has nearly a decade of experience within the department and has most recently served as Senior Counsel to the Deputy Attorney General.

Rise in illicit use of digital assets

Assistant Attorney General Kenneth A. Polite Jr. of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, said: “With the rapid innovation of digital assets and distributed ledger technologies, we have seen a rise in their illicit use by criminals who exploit them to fuel cyberattacks and ransomware and extortion schemes; traffic in narcotics, hacking tools and illicit contraband online; commit thefts and scams; and launder the proceeds of their crimes.

“The NCET will serve as the focal point for the department’s efforts to tackle the growth of crime involving these technologies. Eun Young is an accomplished leader on cyber and cryptocurrency issues, and I am pleased that she will continue her service as the NCET’s inaugural Director, spearheading the department’s efforts in this area.”

Eun Young Choim, NCET Director, commented: “The department has been at the forefront of investigating and prosecuting crimes involving digital currencies since their inception,” said Director Choi. “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. I am excited to lead the NCET’s incredible and talented team of attorneys, and to get to work on this important priority for the department. I would like to thank Assistant Attorney General Polite and the Criminal Division’s leadership for this opportunity.”

JP Morgan hacking, Coin.mx, and Panama Papers

Director Choi joins the NCET team after serving as Senior Counsel to Deputy Attorney General Lisa O. Monaco. She began her career as an Assistant U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, where she served as the office’s Cybercrime Coordinator and investigated and prosecuted cyber, complex fraud and money laundering crimes, with a particular focus on network intrusions, digital currency, the dark web and national security investigations.

She has been involved as lead prosecutor in high-profile cases such as the hacking of J.P. Morgan Chase, the operation of Coin.mx, and the only U.S. prosecution brought in connection with the “Panama Papers.”

She successfully argued the appeal before the Second Circuit in the case against Ross Ulbricht, the founder and chief administrator of the Silk Road, the first darknet marketplace.

Now as the Director of NCET, she will be in charge of the team with the mission to identify, investigate, support and pursue the department’s cases involving the criminal use of digital assets, with a particular focus on virtual currency exchanges, mixing and tumbling services, infrastructure providers, and other entities that are enabling the misuse of cryptocurrency and related technologies to commit or facilitate criminal activity.

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