Remarks as Prepared for Delivery
Thank you, Deputy Attorney General Monaco.
When the Department announced the creation of the National Cryptocurrency Enforcement Team in late 2021, we set forth the blueprint on how NCET would work to disrupt criminal abuse of the cryptocurrency ecosystem. We named Eun Young Choi – an accomplished leader on cyber and cryptocurrency issues and a seasoned Department prosecutor – to be NCET’s first Director. We said that NCET would investigate those who enable the use of digital assets to facilitate crime, with a particular focus on virtual currency exchanges and services. And we said that NCET would enhance the Department’s collaboration with domestic and foreign partners in aggressively investigating and prosecuting crimes involving cryptocurrency.
Today’s actions against Bitzlato – the first public enforcement action led by NCET – are precisely what we had in mind. As the Deputy Attorney General described, Bitzlato is a cryptocurrency exchange that allegedly facilitated illicit activities by making it easier for bad actors, including ransomware groups and dark-web drug pushers, to conceal their identities and profit from their misconduct. Bitzlato accomplished this in part by flouting key requirements of anti-money-laundering programs and helping criminals hide their transactions behind the anonymity of the blockchain.
But today, Bitzlato’s co-founder and senior executive is in handcuffs in the United States, and agencies around the world have taken strong action to ensure that Bitzlato can no longer facilitate crime.
None of this would have been possible without strong partnerships on the domestic and international levels—between NCET, other parts of the Criminal Division, the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Brooklyn, and the stellar teams of FBI agents; between U.S. law enforcement and our counterparts in France; and between the Department and our colleagues at FinCEN. The Department also drew heavily today on its deep bench of international experts, including our new Cyber Operations International Liaison and our legal attaché in Paris.
The work announced here today is a textbook case for what can be accomplished when NCET works with its partners here and abroad to disrupt the harm caused by criminal cryptocurrency platforms. And we’re just getting started.
I will now turn the program over to U.S. Attorney Breon Peace.