The US Department of Justice(DoJ) appoints Eun Young Choi as its first Director of the National Cryptocurrency Enforcement Team(NCET) established last year.
The NCET was created to tackle criminal misuse of cryptocurrencies and digital assets. The intention behind this is to curb illegal activities in virtual currency exchanges, mixing and tumbling services, and money laundering infrastructure actors to fuel cyberattacks and ransomware, and extortion schemes.
According to Assistant Attorney General Kenneth A. Polite Jr. of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, “The NCET will serve as the focal point for the department’s efforts to tackle the growth of crime involving [digital assets and distributed ledger] technologies.”
Additionally, the FBI will be launching the Virtual Asset Exploitation Unit (VAXU) dedicated to tracking and seizing illicit cryptocurrencies as part of a broader endeavor to disrupt international criminal networks.
A new International Virtual Currency Initiative will also be set up by the Justice Department, this will allow international law enforcement operations to trace blockchain money trails as well as develop regulations and anti-money laundering legislation to root out the abuse of cryptocurrency.
According to blockchain analytics firm Chainalysis, there has been a rise of 30% from 2020 in the number of incidents with cybercriminals laundering nearly $8.6 billion in cryptocurrencies in 2021. This corpus is used to carry out other crimes such as darknet market sales or ransomware attacks in which profits are in digital instead of fiat currencies.
In addition to this, 2021 also witnessed an increase in criminal balances, with malicious parties holding $11 billion worth of funds with known illicit sources at the end of the year, compared to just $3 billion at the end of 2020.
Director Choi said in a statement 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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