US Creates National Cryptocurrency Enforcement Team

The United States Department of Justice (DOJ) has formed a new task force to oversee complex investigations and prosecutions of criminal misuses of crypto-currency.

The creation of a National Cryptocurrency Enforcement Team (NCET) was announced yesterday by Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco.

“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 crypto-currency platforms,” said Monaco in a statement dated October 6. 

She added that the DOJ was “poised to root out abuse on these platforms and ensure user confidence in these systems.”

The DOJ’s Office of Public Affairs said that the team’s focus would be on criminal acts committed by virtual currency exchanges, money laundering infrastructure actors, and mixing and tumbling services. 

Working under the supervision of Assistant Attorney General Kenneth Polite Jr., NCET will also assist in tracing and recovering assets lost to fraud and extortion, including crypto-currency payments to ransomware gangs.

NCET will also train and advise federal prosecutors and law enforcement agencies in developing investigative and prosecutorial strategies and provide guidance on matters including search and seizure warrants, restraining orders, criminal and civil forfeiture allegations, and indictment.

“The Criminal Division is already an established leader in investigating and prosecuting the criminal misuse of crypto-currency,” said Polite. 

“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 crypto-currencies.”

Team members will be drawn from the Department of Justice Criminal Division’s Money Laundering and Asset Recovery Section (MLARS), the Computer Crime and Intellectual Property Section (CCIPS), and detailees to the Criminal Division from US Attorneys’ Offices across the country.

The search is now on for “an individual with experience with complex criminal investigations and prosecutions, as well as the technology underpinning crypto-currencies and the blockchain,” to fill the role of NCET team leader, who will report to the assistant attorney general in the Criminal Division.