FinCEN fines Bitcoin Mixer $60M in money laundering crackdown

Larry Dean Harmon of Helix and Coin Ninja, face criminal charges by FinCEN for money laundering and Bank Secrecy Act violations.

By · Oct 21, 2020 . 6min read

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The U.S. Treasury Department’s bureau, The Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN), has imposed its first financial penalty against a Bitcoin mixer. The Financial Crimes Enforcement Network has indicted Larry Dean Harmon, the creator, and operator of Helix and Coin Ninja, with a $60 million civil money penalty for infringing anti-money laundering regulations.

For the uninitiated, Bitcoin mixing is a solution for minimizing the risks of transacting with BTC online through a virtual currency shuffling system. It provides services that strive to deliver sender anonymity and privacy by interchanging one’s BTC with others’ BTC. The privacy offered by Bitcoin mixing algorithms allows BTC investors to negotiate safely on the web. It is not detectable by criminals watching to steal their crypto funds.

Larry Dean Harmon conspired for money laundering?

Larry Dean Harmon was arrested and charged with providing unregistered money services businesses from 2014 to 2020. Operating under Helix and Coin Ninja, he participated as a founder and primary operator. Both platforms offered Bitcoin trading services and virtual currency mixers. Moreover, Harmon also faces charges of conspiracy for money laundering and running unlicensed money transferring business.

According to FinCEN’s statement, Harmon laundered over $300 million in Bitcoin (BTC). Additionally, he enabled trafficking, guns, and child pornography by supporting Helix’s services as a Bitcoin mixer through the dark web. Moreover, U.S. law officials also state that over 365,000 Bitcoin transactions were processed via Helix. Moreover, while enhancing Helix services by his role as a primary cryptocurrency exchanger, Harmon also acted as a CEO for Coin Ninja.

Infringing Bank Secrecy Act

As per FinCEN’s, Harmon voluntarily and intentionally violated the Bank Secrecy Act’s regulatory framework. Moreover, he leads businesses with drug traffickers and counterfeiters by transferring and exchanging Bitcoin through various techniques. Furthermore, FinCEN also claims that the Bitcoin-mixing operator concealed the illicit activities by actively deleting customer information he collected via Helix.

The enforcement action comes seven years after FinCEN published guidance. It asked exchanges and administrators of convertible virtual currency to enrol as money services businesses and adopt anti-money-laundering compliance programs. Moreover, the agency explained in 2019 that financial institutions that are mixers and tumblers of convertible virtual currency must also comply with these requirements.

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