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Top crypto prosecutor being hired by US Justice Department

By Andrew Knoll

17:58, 2 November 2021

DOJ and bitcoin
NCET head will be involved in a wide array of criminal investigation units - Photo: Shutterstock

The US Department of Justice has posted a job listing soliciting applications from attorneys to head its nascent cryptocurrency unit.

In early October, the DOJ announced the formation of its National Cryptocurrency Enforcement Team (NCET), which will investigate and prosecute crimes in which cryptocurrency is used as an illicit tool. The team will also coordinate broader prioritisation and enforcement of cryptocurrency-related regulations with federal attorneys.

“We are launching the National Cryptocurrency Enforcement Team to draw on the department’s cyber and money laundering expertise to strengthen our capacity to dismantle the financial entities that enable criminal actors to flourish - and quite frankly, profit - from abusing cryptocurrency platforms,” US Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco said. “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.”

A sweeping mandate

The head of the NCET will be involved in a wide array of criminal investigation units and support not only NCET’s own cases but investigations and prosecutions stemming from other criminal divisions of the DOJ. The director will report directly to the assistant attorney general of the DOJ’s criminal division. The NCET will coordinate, notably, with the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) and Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC).

Such diverse responsibilities defy the rigid division of labour sometimes seen in law enforcement. That breadth offers the department and its director authority that covers various areas including white-collar crimes, trafficking of contraband, cybersecurity encroachments and a host of other federal crimes potentially related to cryptocurrency. 

The head of NECT position, which the posting indicated would pay between $144,128-$172,500 annually, requires extensive knowledge of cryptocurrency, blockchain technology and statutes pertaining to money laundering, white-collar crime and “experience investigating criminal matters involving complex or sensitive law enforcement techniques”.

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Short position overnight fee 0.0069%
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Spread 0.01168

Wider angles

The interagency approach to organisation and the very formation of the NCET entity reflect broad overtures by US President Joe Biden’s administration to address a lack of regulation of cryptocurrency and other cyber technologies.

The CFTC defined cryptocurrencies as commodities, giving them a level of authority in enforcement. The US Department of the Treasury has scrutinised cryptocurrency, especially in terms of its use to pay for ransomware and other cybercrimes.

The SEC has been rather active, as well. In a seven-year period, it levied some $1.77bn (£1.3bn) in fines toward businesses and individuals pertaining to cryptocurrency abuse.

There were 75 actions and 19 trading suspensions brought forth by the SEC across that same span. About 81% of those cases involved fraud, and slightly more than half pertained to initial coin offerings.

Read more: Shiba Inu beats Dogecoin, becomes 8th largest cryptocurrency

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