FBI to Form Digital Currency Unit, Justice Department Brings in New Crypto Czar


WASHINGTON, Feb 17 (Reuters) – The U.S. Justice Department has tapped a seasoned computer crimes prosecutor to lead its new National Cryptocurrency Enforcement Team and announced on Thursday that the FBI is launching an investigation unit. blockchain analysis and seizure of virtual assets.

The creation of the FBI’s “virtual assets exploitation” unit comes after the Justice Department’s largest-ever financial seizure earlier this month. He accused a married New York couple of allegedly laundering bitcoins now worth more than $4.5 billion that were stolen in the 2016 hack of digital currency exchange Bitfinex.

US regulators under President Joe Biden have stepped up their scrutiny of the crypto industry following a series of high-profile cyberattacks last year on the largest US fuel pipeline network and the largest beef supplier to the world. Ransomware groups often demand their fees in bitcoins.

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In some of these cases, the FBI was able to track down and recover part of the ransom.

Cryptocurrencies are based on blockchain technology, a database shared on a network of computers, in which records are difficult to modify once added.

In a speech at the Munich Cybersecurity Conference in Germany, Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco announced that Eun Young Choi, a prosecutor who led the case against a Russian hacker who helped steal information of more than 80 million JPMorgan & Chase Co customers, will lead the department’s cryptocurrency enforcement team.

Choi, who most recently served as Monaco’s senior attorney, worked for nearly a decade as a cybercrime coordinator and assistant U.S. attorney in New York, according to her LinkedIn profile. the US Attorney’s office in New York.

“We issue a clear warning to criminals who use cryptocurrency to fuel their schemes,” Monaco said.

“We’re also calling on all companies dealing with cryptocurrency – we need you to root out cryptocurrency abuse. For those who don’t, we’ll hold you accountable wherever possible.”

Monaco also announced the creation of a new international virtual currency initiative and said the department would be aggressive in disrupting cyber threats, even at the risk of warning cybercriminals and compromising potential charges.

“Going forward, prosecutors, agents and analysts will now assess – at every stage of a cyber investigation – whether to use disruptive actions against cyber threats, even though they might otherwise warn cybercriminals and jeopardize the potential for charges and arrest,” she said.

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Reporting by Sarah N. Lynch and Chris Prentice in Washington; edited by Jonathan Oatis and Richard Chang

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