A Quick Look at Last Month's U.S. Crypto Crime Log

Not a lot happened last month, but some stuff did.

AccessTimeIconFeb 6, 2024 at 2:30 p.m. UTC

While our attention was focused on exchange-traded funds earlier this month, federal regulators in the U.S. announced charges or sentences for various crypto parties.

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Quiet month

The narrative

Remember when it felt like an initial coin offering was getting sued nearly every other week? January has been downright silent in comparison.

Why it matters

Always worth seeing what's happening in regulators' circles.

Breaking it down

  • The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission charged the CEO of Future FinTech, Shanchun Huang, "with manipulative trading" and "failing to disclose his beneficial ownership" in Future FinTech prior to becoming the company's CEO in 2020. Future FinTech acquired a Chinese bitcoin mining firm in 2021 (though this wasn't part of the SEC complaint). Future FinTech also called itself "a leading blockchain-based e-commerce business" in a press release that year. Its website now refers to itself as "a comprehensive financial and digital technology service provider," that does mention various cryptocurrency bits in its "about us" page.
  • The Commodity Futures Trading Commission charged a company called Debiex and an individual named Zhang Cheng Yang with misappropriating customer funds.
  • A federal judge sentenced Marco Ruiz Ochoa, a promoter for IcomTech, to five years in prison, two years of supervised release and nearly $1 million in forfeiture. IcomTech was a crypto ponzi scheme, the Department of Justice alleged, and Ochoa pled guilty to conspiracy to commit wire fraud last September.
  • Raul Rodriguez, who used LocalBitcoins to convert bitcoin and other cryptos for customers, pled guilty to operating an unlicensed money transmitting business. The DOJ alleged he converted more than $5 million over a 6-year period in Florida.
  • Mark Scott, a former partner at law firm Locke Lord LLP, was sentenced to 10 years in prison after being convicted over four years ago of laundering some $400 million for OneCoin, a multilevel marketing scam you've probably heard of.
  • And finally, the DOJ published a notice about Sam Bankman-Fried's sentencing, currently set for March 28, 9:30 a.m. before Judge Lewis Kaplan. Anyone who believes they are a victim of Bankman-Fried is invited to write a victim impact statement.

Stories you may have missed

This week

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Tuesday

  • The U.K.'s Financial Conduct Authority faces a deadline for its stablecoin consultation.

Thursday

  • 14:00 UTC (9:00 a.m. ET) Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen will present the Financial Stability Oversight Council's annual report to the Senate Banking Committee.
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If you’ve got thoughts or questions on what I should discuss next week or any other feedback you’d like to share, feel free to email me at nik@coindesk.com or find me on Twitter @nikhileshde.

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See ya’ll next week!

Edited by Stephen Alpher.


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Nikhilesh De

Nikhilesh De is CoinDesk's managing editor for global policy and regulation. He owns marginal amounts of bitcoin and ether.