The Justice Department has touted its success in prosecuting crypto-related faults for years. He has indicted individuals for deploying digital ransomware; shutting down child pornography websites that relied on virtual currency accounts; and dismantled the terrorist fundraising campaigns fueled by cryptocurrency donations. The government has also made public its recent success in seizing billions of dollars in cryptocurrency linked to illegal dark web activity, including ransomware payments. The DOJ has mainly focused on the criminal actors themselves, and not necessarily on the companies that facilitate illegal transactions of digital assets. This is now subject to change.
On October 6, 2021, Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco announced the creation of a National Cryptocurrency Enforcement Team (NCET), a group of federal prosecutors from the Money Laundering Asset Recovery Section. Money (MLARS), Computer Crime and Intellectual Property Section (CCIPS), and other deputy U.S. prosecutors detailed from U.S. prosecutors’ offices across the country. The NCET stands ready to “investigate, support and prosecute cases against cryptocurrency exchanges, infrastructure providers and other entities that allow the misuse of cryptocurrency and related products to commit or facilitate criminal activity ”. This announcement represents a marked shift in focus from the criminal actors themselves towards the companies that the government believes are providing the services and technology in the crypto space to make crimes possible.