Money laundering at Bitfinex: Husband faces pre-trial detention, wife receives bail

Ilya Lichtenstein was placed in pre-trial prison by the judge, who claimed he had the motive and resources to flee and could constitute a flight risk.

The husband-and-wife team accused of laundering $3.6 billion in Bitcoin (BTC) had a very different Valentine. Heather Morgan’s suspended release was upheld by a federal judge, but husband Ilya Lichtenstein was remanded to pre-trial imprisonment.

The chief judge of the Federal District Court in Columbia, Beryl A. Howell, determined that Lichtenstein had the motivation and resources to flee and, as a result, must be detained. Morgan, on the other hand, was able to meet the requirements for a suspended release on a $3 million bail.

According to the New York Times, the couple’s lawyer disputed any motive for escaping and maintained that, despite being under investigation since last year, the couple had no plans to leave the country, citing family ties and future plans.

The main suspects in the case are accused of laundering 94,000 bitcoins (BTC) out of 119,754 BTC stolen from the Bitfinex crypto exchange in 2016, which is believed to be worth over $5.1 billion today. The initial investigation discovered no link between the two and the theft of cash in 2016. They were, however, discovered to be actively involved in money laundering through a complex network of accounts.

The US Department of Justice (DoJ) seized 94,000 bitcoins in Lichtenstein’s possession in connection with the attack, making it the largest crypto seizure in the agency’s history. The Department of Justice originally traced 25,000 BTC from the Bitifinex theft to the couple’s financial accounts, and later recovered a total of $3.6 billion worth of BTC in their possession.

The world’s largest Bitcoin heist has already become a popular subject on social media, and Netflix has already launched a new documentary series about the couple’s theft and money laundering.


Disclaimer: These are the writer’s opinions and should not be considered investment advice. Readers should do their own research.

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