Couple behind Bitfinex money laundering scheme reach plea deal with US prosecutors
The husband and wife alleged to have laundered billions of dollars worth of Bitcoin connected to the 2016 Bitfinex hack have reached a plea agreement with authorities in the United States.
According to records filed with U.S. District Court in the District of Columbia on July 21, Ilya Lichtenstein and Heather Morgan are scheduled to appear for an arraignment and hearing on Aug. 3 as part of a plea agreement with prosecutors. The pair had been charged with money laundering conspiracy and conspiracy to defraud the United States, and expected to forfeit digital assets connected to the case.
Following the hack of crypto exchange Bitfinex in August 2016 in which roughly 119,754 Bitcoin (BTC) was stolen, Lichtenstein and Morgan allegedly laundered more than 94,643 BTC of the funds “in a series of small, complex transactions across multiple accounts and platforms”. Authorities arrested the two in New York in February 2022 and seized the BTC — worth roughly $54 million at the time of the hack but $3.6 billion at the time of publication.
Related: How the IRS seized $10B worth of crypto using blockchain analytics
At the time of Lichtenstein’s and Morgan’s arrests, the laundered Bitcoin represented the largest financial seizure by the U.S. Department of Justice. Individuals have periodically moved small amounts of BTC connected to the hack, but only a small amount has been returned to Bitfinex from authorities in an effort to restore victims’ funds.
Magazine: US enforcement agencies are turning up the heat on crypto-related crime