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.
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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