Ilya Liechtenstein, a dual citizen of Russia and the US, and his wife, Heather Morgan, admitted to money laundering in connection with the 2016 Bitfinex cryptocurrency heist, according to the US Department of Justice.
The couple confessed to participating in a criminal conspiracy to launder approximately 120,000 bitcoins that were stolen from Bitfinex International Cryptocurrency Exchange. They have agreed to cooperate with US law enforcement agencies, as previously disclosed.
Liechtenstein and Morgan were arrested in New York in February 2022. Following their arrest, the court decided to transfer them from New York to Washington for further proceedings. According to the Ministry of Justice’s press release, Liechtenstein faces a possible sentence of up to 20 years in prison, while Morgan faces a maximum sentence of 10 years.
The US Department of Justice states that the stolen bitcoins, valued at around $3.6 billion, were seized during the investigation into the Bitfinex cyber attack. The couple allegedly employed various methods to launder the stolen funds, including creating fake accounts, transferring money to other exchanges, and converting bitcoins into other cryptocurrencies.
Previously, it was reported that Israeli law enforcement officers arrested two brothers suspected of hacking the Bitfinex cryptocurrency exchange and conducting phishing attacks. The suspects, Eli brothers and Assaf Gigi, are believed to have systematically embezzled cryptocurrencies by gaining unauthorized access to user accounts. Police say the attackers managed to abscond with tens of millions of dollars.
In addition, in 2021, a hacker from the Indian state of Karnataka confessed to hacking the Bitfinex and BTC-E cryptocurrency exchanges, engaging in phishing attacks, and launching numerous attacks on other websites.