Ryan King, Washington ExaminerFeb 17, 2022
The FBI is creating a new “virtual asset exploitation” unit to help the agency analyze cases involving cryptocurrency and blockchain.
The Justice Department announced Thursday that Eun Young Choi, a prosecutor who recently served as the senior counsel to Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco, will serve as the first director of the National Cryptocurrency Enforcement Team, which will collaborate with the new FBI unit and oversee investigations of crimes committed with cryptocurrencies.
“The department has been at the forefront of investigating and prosecuting crimes involving digital currencies since their inception,” Choi said. “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.”
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The unit, first announced last October, will also help train federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies to combat crypto crimes. The NCET will collaborate with multiple groups in the department, including the Criminal Division’s Computer Crime and Intellectual Property Section and Money Laundering and Asset Recovery Section, the National Security Division, U.S. attorneys’ offices, and the FBI, according to a press release.
The new unit is a “specialized team of cryptocurrency experts dedicated to providing analysis, support, and training across the FBI, as well as innovating its cryptocurrency tools to stay ahead of future threats,” the department said. It did not provide additional information about the new unit, and a spokesperson for the FBI did not respond to a request for comment from the Washington Examiner.
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U.S. law enforcement is working to gain ground amid the growing prevalence of virtual currency. Last week, the department announced that it recovered $3.6 billion worth of bitcoin that was stolen in a 2016 hack of cryptocurrency exchange Bitfinex.
Law enforcement officials have expressed concern that cryptocurrency transactions can be difficult to trace. In 2020, the Anti-Human Trafficking Intelligence Initiative released a report saying cryptocurrency has become “ideal” for criminals involved in human trafficking and other illegal activities due to its “pseudo-anonymous nature.” Congress has also held hearings about the virtual currency, and some politicians have expressed concerns about its impact on the U.S. economy.