US financial watchdog fines early Bitcoin mixer $60M for money laundering
The founder and operator of some of the first “mixing” services in crypto will have to cough up $60 million to U.S. regulators, even as he faces continued criminal charges.
The U.S. Treasury’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) announced on Monday a $60-million fine fine against Larry Dean Harmon, the man behind Helix and Coin Ninja.
Harmon was arrested in February for operating a stable of tumblers or mixers that Washington, D.C. prosecutors allege constitute unregistered money services businesses. Those charges against him say he laundered over $300 million in Bitcoin. According to today’s announcement, “FinCEN’s investigation has identified at least 356,000 bitcoin transactions through Helix.”
Mixing services attempt to privatize cryptocurrencies by sending them through a massive series of transactions involving various wallets. The process aims to obscure the origins of coins as well as the entity in control of them when they come out of mixing. Harmon’s mixers were only accessible via the dark web.
FinCEN claims that Harmon deliberately flaunted the provisions of the Bank Secrecy Act, the cornerstone of U.S. anti-money laundering legislation. It was violations of the BSA that led to criminal charges against the executive team of crypto exchange BitMEX earlier this month.
U.S. authorities have been on the prowl for criminal activity based on crypto. The Department of Justice recently released a report that highlighted privacy tokens like Monero as cause for alarm.
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