Ilya Lichtenstein and Heather Morgan on Thursday pleaded responsible to money-laundering charges connected to the 2016 theft of some 120,000 Bitcoins from Hong Kong-basically based fully Bitfinex.
The Feds arrested Lichtenstein, 35, and Morgan, 33, in February 2022 following the US authorities’s tracing of about 95,000 of the stolen BTC – price about $3.6 billion on the time and $2.8 billion this day – to digital wallets controlled by the married couple.
The Justice Department on the time described the seizure as the biggest ever and has since recovered an additional $475 million.
Lichtenstein, a Russian nationwide, founded MixRank, a marketing agency, and Endpass, a decentralized identity platform, and owned a single-member investment entity referred to as Demandpath. Morgan changed into once the CEO of SalesFolk, a marketing agency, and briefly grew to turn into something of an internet huge name for her entrepreneurial rapping below the name Razzlekhan.
According to US prosecutors, Lichtenstein gained catch entry to to Bitfinex’s network using unidentified tools and proceeded to initiate more than 2,000 false transactions that despatched 119,754 bitcoin from Bitfinex into a cryptocurrency pockets he controlled.
Thereafter, the Justice Department said, he tried to quilt his tracks by deleting catch entry to credentials and log recordsdata, and then involved Morgan to support launder the stolen funds by transferring them thru a maze of financial accounts. At one point Lichtenstein extinct some of the funds to aquire gold coins, which maintain been then buried by Morgan.
An affidavit [PDF] from IRS investigator Christopher Janczewski, which paperwork the foundation of the US authorities’s case, traces the drift of stolen funds thru plenty of accounts connected to the defendants.
Rapidly earlier than the couple’s arrest, the affidavit says, the Feds “gained catch entry to to pockets 1CGA4s by decrypting a file saved to Lichtenstein’s cloud storage memoir, which had been obtained pursuant to a search warrant. The file contained a listing of 2,000 virtual currency addresses, alongside with corresponding deepest keys. Blockchain prognosis confirmed that in terms of all of these addresses maintain been instantly linked to the hack.”
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Janczewski illustrious that some of the information that helped investigators got here from “deepest entities that the US authorities believes to be legit,” and that a kind of these may perchance well be financially motivated, particularly by “a enormous reward connected to the return of the stolen funds” offered by Bitfinex.
In July, Bitfinex introduced that it got $312,219.71 in money and 6.917 BCH from the United States Department of Place of birth Security connected to the 2016 robbery. It is using the recovered funds to redeem Restoration Exact Tokens (RRTs) issued to memoir holders after the incident as a originate of speculative compensation to the attack’s victims.
Lichtenstein faces as a lot as twenty years in detention heart after pleading responsible to conspiracy to commit money laundering. Morgan pleaded responsible to two counts – money laundering conspiracy and conspiracy to defraud the US – and faces as a lot as five years in detention heart for every depend. ®