MoonPay, Startup Known for Celeb NFT Buys, Adds Obama-Era Money Laundering Watchdog

James Freis ran the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network from 2007 to 2012.

AccessTimeIconMar 23, 2022 at 6:12 p.m. UTC
Updated May 11, 2023 at 6:34 p.m. UTC
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James Freis, a former top money-laundering prevention official at the U.S. Treasury Department, has joined MoonPay as a special adviser for regulatory matters, the payments infrastructure company said Wednesday.

Freis, who ran the Treasury’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) under former Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama, will advise MoonPay’s executives and compliance officials as the startup further establishes its systems for allowing people to buy and sell cryptocurrencies using a range of payment methods, such as credit cards, bank transfers and Apple Pay, the company said in a statement.

“As MoonPay works to bring the next billion people into the crypto economy, Jim brings an unparalleled wealth of experience to the business and will be instrumental in helping us continue our growth,” Ivan Soto-Wright, chief executive officer and founder of MoonPay, said in a statement.

MoonPay, which said it is valued at $3.4 billion after closing a Series A funding round last November, is registered with FinCEN as a money-services business, in addition to having money transmitter licenses held in 36 states, according to the company.

The company acts as a "concierge" service for celebrities interested in purchasing non-fungible tokens (NFTs), purchasing NFTs for high-profile individuals and advertising the sales on TV and in other locations.

Freis, a lawyer and former official at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, has also served as the chief compliance officer at Deutsche Börse Group. Atop FinCEN, he was responsible for government efforts to head off money laundering and financial fraud.

“Part of the reason I was drawn to MoonPay is because it's innovating at speed while also taking very seriously obligations within an evolving regulatory framework,” Freis said.

MoonPay has said it's focusing attention on non-fungible tokens, working to streamline the checkout process for NFT markets. The Treasury has warned that NFTs could become a favorite tool of money launderers, according to a study published last month.


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Jesse Hamilton

Jesse Hamilton is CoinDesk's deputy managing editor for global policy and regulation. He doesn't hold any crypto.

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