Recently, the protracted war on crypto privacy by the US government escalated this week with the arrest of Larry Harmon of Coin Ninja. He is facing charges of money laundering. According to a DOJ document, Harmon’s attempt to obscure crypto transactions using crypto mixers was illegal. As a result, those seeking to exercise their right of privacy when using crypto could end up facing federal money laundering charges.
This is a Big Deal
The crypto industry was shocked to learn that Larry Harmon of Coin Ninja has been placed under arrest and is being charged with laundering over $311 million from Alphabay, a darknet marketplace. While Harmon does not trade on Aphabay, the Helix Mixer that he created was recommended by the marketplace.
Users of Bitcoin use mixers to offer a degree of privacy that is not offered by Bitcoin. However, mixers can also be users by criminals trying to obscure their transactions. Harmon was indicted by a grand jury in Washington D.C. and this has opened up a world of trouble for him and his family. For instance, the two companies he was running have had their assets frozen, including the assets of customers using his services. This includes any crypto that was in the Lightning Wallet created by Dropbit. The implications for the crypto sector could be far-reaching. This could affect anyone who has ever used a coin mixer, whether for simple privacy or for nefarious intentions.
Crypto Mixing is now a Crime
According to the DOJ indictment, using a crypto mixer is now a crime. In an appearance before the US Senate a day before Harmon was indicted, the Treasury Secretary said he wanted to ensure criminals were not using crypto. He said that the Treasury Department was working with FinCEN to roll out new regulation to govern the crypto sector concerning transparency. This way, law enforcers could trace where money was going to ensure it was not being used for illegal activities.
Many in the crypto sector have long feared that US regulators will go to any measures to crush the crypto sector. With this latest move, it would appear they are a step closer to achieving that goal.