US man pleads guilty to laundering crypto stolen from Bitfinex hack

By Luc Cohen

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – A New York technology entrepreneur pleaded guilty on Thursday to laundering funds stolen from Bitfinex, one of the world’s largest cryptocurrency exchanges, with his wife, an online rapper, expected to follow.

Ilya Lichtenstein entered his plea at a hearing before U.S. District Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly in Washington.

His wife Heather Morgan, who used the hip-hop alias “Razzklekhan” to promote her music, is expected to enter her own plea later on Thursday. She faces an additional count of conspiracy to defraud the United States.

Lichtenstein and Morgan had been arrested in February 2022on charges of laundering more than 100,000 bitcoin that was stolen after a hacker attacked Bitfinex in 2016.

The bitcoin was worth $71 million at the time, but had appreciated to more than $4.5 billion by the time of their arrests.

Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco said at the time that the $3.6 billion in assets that prosecutors recovered from the couple was the biggest financial seizure in U.S. Department of Justice history.

Prosecutors want the couple to forfeit $3 billion. A docket entry in late July shows that Lichtenstein and Morgan reached their plea deal with the U.S. Attorney’s office in Washington.

(Reporting by Luc Cohen in Washington; Editing by Andrea Ricci)

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