DOJ seizes billions of dollars in bitcoin linked to Bitfinex hack from 2016

American authorities have arrested a New York couple linked to the 2016 hack of cryptocurrency exchange Bitfinex, one of the largest exchanges at the time. The U.S. Department of Justice alleges the couple weaved a sophistacted plan to launder billions in illicit proceeds.

Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco said the seizure was the largest in the agency's history.

Ilya Lichtenstein, 34, and his wife, Heather Morgan, 31 will be making an appearance in federal court sometime on Tuesday.

The DOJ alleges the couple was attempting to launder a total of 119k bitcoin, 25,000 of which were transferred from Lichtenstein’s crypto wallet via a complex money laundering process. The illicit funds eventually made their way to financial accounts controlled by Lichtenstein and Morgan.

94,000 bitcoin of the 119k has been seized by the DOJ. The seized bitcoin is currently valued at approximately $3.6 billion.

Assistant Attorney General Kenneth Polite Jr. said in the statement that authorities will not allow blockchains to be a safe haven for money launderers:
“Today, federal law enforcement demonstrates once again that we can follow money through the blockchain, and that we will not allow cryptocurrency to be a safe haven for money laundering or a zone of lawlessness within our financial system.”

The couple faces 20 years behind bars if they are convicted on the charges of money laundering and conspiracy to defraud the United States.

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