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FinCEN Fines Bitcoin-Mixing CEO $60M in Landmark Crackdown on Helix, Coin Ninja

Larry Dean Harmon ran the first bitcoin mixing services targeted with criminal allegations by U.S. authorities.

Oct 19, 2020 at 6:49 p.m. UTC
Updated Sep 14, 2021 at 10:11 a.m. UTC

Larry Dean Harmon, the Helix and Coin Ninja crypto-tumbling chief who in February was arrested for allegedly mixing bitcoin for criminals must pay $60 million in civil penalties, prosecutors at the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) demanded Monday.

  • Harmon's bitcoin mixing services allegedly laundered tens of millions of dollars in crypto for darknet markets including Abraxas, Agora, Hansa, Hydra and Wall Street Market.
  • Defunct former darknet giant AlphaBay is alleged to have forged particularly close ties to Helix. Prosecutors claim Helix laundered $27 million in bitcoin for AlphaBay by integrating its mixing services on site.
  • Harmon's family has denied Larry had any ties to AlphaBay.
  • Prosecutors allege Harmon was running an unregistered money services business in violation of the Banking Secrecy Act. They say he had a responsibility to file suspicious activity reports and systemically flouted U.S. money laundering laws.
  • FinCEN hailed its penalty as the "first" action against a bitcoin mixer.
  • Harmon's case is notable because it is the first time the U.S. Department of Justice explicitly called bitcoin mixing a "crime." Such a classification could mean far-reaching legal troubles for any service that uses obfuscation tactics to conceal bitcoin's publicly accessible path.
  • Harmon also faces criminal proceedings in U.S. federal court.

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