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U.S. names Korean-American as crypto enforcement leader

Posted February. 19, 2022 07:26,   

Updated February. 19, 2022 07:26


The U.S. Department of Justice said on Thursday (local time) that it named Korea-American prosecutor Choi Eun Young as the first director of the department’s National Cryptocurrency Enforcement Team (NCET). The NCET has been newly established to respond to crimes using digital assets, such as virtual currency, and will consist of prosecutors and attorneys with experience in cybercrime and money laundering investigation as well as cryptocurrency.

“She will assume her duties full-time effective today,” said the Department of Justice. “Eun Young is an accomplished leader on cyber and cryptocurrency issues, and I am pleased that she will continue her service as the NCET’s inaugural Director, spearheading the department’s efforts in this area.”

After graduating from Harvard Law School, Prosecutor Choi began her career as an Assistant U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York (SDNY) from 2012, building her career in cybercrime investigation. The SDNY, which is in charge of crime investigations in the Manhattan area in New York, is considered one of the most influential prosecutors’ offices in the U.S. Choi led the prosecution of the 2014 hack against JPMorgan, where a Russian hacker stole information about more than 80 million customers and racked up about 120 billion won in profits.

“The NCET will play a pivotal role in ensuring that as the technology surrounding digital assets grows and evolves, the department in turn accelerates and expands its efforts to combat their illicit abuse by criminals of all kinds,” Choi said. “I am excited to lead the NCET’s incredible and talented team of attorneys.”

According to Reuters, an American couple has been charged for allegedly laundering bitcoins valued at $4.5 billion that was stolen from the hack of a Hong Kong virtual asset exchange. Crimes involving cryptocurrency are becoming bolder. The U.S. Department of Justice sized roughly $3.6 billion in cryptocurrency from the couple, the biggest seizure in the department’s history.

After Colonial Pipeline, the largest pipeline system for refined oil products in the U.S., and JBS SA, the largest meat processing company in the world, were hacked last year by Russia-based group of cybercriminals, the Joe Biden administration ordered a detailed investigation into the overall cyber industry to strengthen the country’s cybersecurity defenses.

Recently, concerns are being raised about North Korea’s hacking attempts aimed at virtual cryptocurrency exchanges. According to the 2022 Cryptocurrency Crime Report released by Chainalysis, a blockchain analysis company, North Korea hacked a cryptocurrency exchange in August last year, stealing $91 million worth of virtual currency.