A new bitcoin czar has been appointed by the US Justice Department

A experienced cybersecurity prosecutor has been selected by the Justice Department to oversee a new unit tasked with researching and prosecuting illegal cryptocurrency schemes perpetrated by cyber criminals and nation governments such as North Korea and Iran.

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Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco said Thursday that Eun Young Choi will be the inaugural director of the National Cryptocurrency Enforcement Team, which will be the focal point for efforts to detect and disrupt the abuse of cryptocurrencies and other digital assets.

"If we're going to see cryptocurrencies acquire greater traction and wider use, as I believe we will, we have to make sure that the environment in which they operate can be trusted and, frankly, policed," Monaco said in an interview. "We're going to make it our business to go after them and get those funds back, and to show them that they can't hide."

The $2 trillion cryptocurrency industry has exploded as businesses and investors seek bigger profits and a footing in a technology that is still in its infancy.

Prosecutors and regulators are scrambling to figure out how to police that space — as well as the market for other digital assets like nonfungible tokens — which has emerged as a new frontier for criminals and rogue states to steal and launder billions of dollars using anonymous methods like blockchain transactions, encryption, and digital wallets.

According to Chainalysis, a blockchain analytics business, illegal transactions increased by about 80% to $14 billion in 2021, an all-time high. Despite this, criminality accounted for a significantly lower portion of total crypto transaction volume, which rose dramatically last year, according to the business.

In an interview, Choi claimed that one of the new team's key objectives would be on uncovering criminal activities on virtual currency exchanges as well as bitcoin tumbler, or mixing, services, which are used to disguise contaminated assets.

Choi, dubbed "EYC" by her coworkers, most recently worked as senior counsel to Monaco on cybersecurity issues. The department's criminal section houses the crypto team, which now has over a dozen skilled prosecutors and aims to add more.

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