National Cryptocurrency Enforcement Team: Department of Justice Creates Group to Pursue Crypto Criminals

The US Department of Justice has announced a new National Cryptocurrency Enforcement Team (NCET). 

According to the DOJ, the NCET builds upon MLARS’s Digital Currency Initiative and will be informed by the Department’s Cryptocurrency Enforcement Framework, released in October 2020. The NCET will not only pursue its own cases but will also support existing and future cases brought across the Criminal Division and in the U.S. Attorneys’ Offices across the country.

Team members will combine their expertise in financial systems, blockchain technology, tracing transactions, and applicable criminal statutes to address illegal activity involving cryptocurrency. The NCET will also work closely with other federal agencies, subject matter experts, and its law enforcement partners throughout the government.

The team will also assist in tracing and recovery of assets lost to fraud and extortion, including cryptocurrency payments to ransomware groups.

The NCET will be under the direct supervision of Assistant Attorney General Kenneth A. Polite Jr.

The NCET will:

  • Investigate and prosecute cryptocurrency cases, comprising a central part of a nationwide enforcement effort to combat the use of cryptocurrency as an illicit tool.
  • Develop strategic priorities for investigations and prosecutions involving cryptocurrency, in consultation with the USAOs, Department components, and investigative agencies involved in cryptocurrency investigations.
  • Identify areas for increased investigative and prosecutorial focus, including professional money launderers, ransomware schemes, human traffickers, narcotics traffickers, and financial institutions working with cryptocurrency.
  • Build and enhance relationships with cryptocurrency-focused AUSAs and prosecutors with other Department litigating components and offices to pursue cryptocurrency investigations and prosecutions.
  • Develop and maintain relationships with federal, state, local, and international law enforcement agencies that investigate and prosecute cryptocurrency cases.
  • Train and advise federal prosecutors and law enforcement agencies in developing investigative and prosecutorial strategies. Such training and advice will include providing guidance concerning search and seizure warrants, restraining orders, criminal and civil forfeiture allegations, indictments, and other pleadings.
  • Support the coordination and sharing of information and evidence among law enforcement offices to maximize the effectiveness of the Department’s investigations, prosecutions, and forfeitures involving cryptocurrency.
  • Collaborate and build relationships with private sector actors with expertise in cryptocurrency matters to further the criminal enforcement mission.

Deputy Attorney Lisa O. Monaco said they are launching the Team to strengthen their ability to “dismantle the financial entities that enable criminal actors to flourish.”

 “As the technology advances, so too must the Department evolve with it so that we’re poised to root out abuse on these platforms and ensure user confidence in these systems.”

Assistant Attorney General Polite added:

“The Criminal Division is already an established leader in investigating and prosecuting the criminal misuse of cryptocurrency. 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 cryptocurrencies.”

 

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