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US DOJ Targets Crypto Exchanges for Money Laundering

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DOJ to Target Mixers and Tumblers

According to Eun Young Choi, the head of the crypto unit at the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ), the United States has resolved to target digital platforms because they are making it easy for criminals and money launderers. Choi said the DOJ hopes taking action against entities such as crypto exchanges is “going to have a multiplier effect.”

The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) will target digital asset exchange platforms and entities providing mixers and tumblers which are used to obfuscate the trail of transactions, Eun Young Choi, the department’s so-called crypto tsar, has said. According to Choi, who became the director of the enforcement team in 2022 within the department, the DOJ is targeting such companies because they are making it easy for money launderers to move funds without being detected.

Besides enabling criminals to profit from their deeds, Choi said the DOJ hopes that the action taken against digital platforms will have a wider impact. Choi reportedly stated:

But on top of that, they’re allowing for all the other criminal actors to easily profit from their crimes and cash out in ways that are obviously problematic to us. And so we hope that by focusing on those types of platforms, we’re going to have a multiplier effect.

By focusing on digital platforms, Choi said her department is also sending a “deterrent message” to businesses skirting sanctions and those not following the required customer identification rules.

US Crypto Crackdown

During her time as the Biden administration’s crypto tsar, the United States government has cracked down on crypto platforms and influencers. In addition, a record fine against alleged crypto fraudsters has been issued. The U.S. government’s increasingly hardline position on crypto has, in turn, prompted crypto entities like Coinbase to mull relocating to countries with less stringent regulations.

However, despite crypto exchanges’ threats to pull out of the country, Choi suggested the crackdown is necessary in order to stop criminal elements from using crypto to achieve their objective.

“We’re seeing the scale and the scope of digital assets being used in a variety of illicit ways grow significantly over the last, say, four years,” Choi said.

In addition to targeting crypto exchanges, Choi’s crypto unit within the DOJ is also targeting investment scams. According to the report, in April alone the department seized crypto assets worth more than $112 million which it said were related to such scams.

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