Helix Crypto Mixer Founder Sued For Alleged Loosens Platform Money Laundering Controls
The US Justice Department (DOJ) has filed a formal lawsuit against the inventor of Helix cryptocurrency mixer in an attempt to recover a $60 million civil penalty.
According to the lawsuit, the DOJ stated that Larry Harmon, who operated the mixer, has failed to pay the civil penalty issued to him for alleged laxity in implementing steps to stop money laundering through the platform.
Harmon, according to the lawsuit, encouraged criminals in leveraging cryptocurrency while disguising their operations through his business. It pointed out:
“Through his services, Harmon promoted unlawful online activities by concealing the nature, the location, the source, the ownership, and the control of the proceeds of online drug sales, amongst other illegal online activities.”
Notably, the United States Department of Treasury issued penalties on Harmon in 2020 via the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) after he was accused of violating the federal Bank Secrecy Act (BSA). FinCEN said:
“Investigation demonstrated that Mr. Harmon deliberately disregarded his obligations under the BSA and implemented practices that allowed Helix to circumvent the BSA’s requirements.”
The accused, according to the department, conducted an unauthorized money-transmitting company. As a result, Harmon pled guilty to money laundering conspiracy charges in 2021, although he has yet to be sentenced.
It is worth mentioning that the Treasury Department has tightened its grip on crypto mixers, with Ethereum (ETH)-based Tornado Cash being the latest victim of penalties. The service was penalized for allegedly failing to implement anti-money laundering protocols.
The Treasury has recently come under fire, with a segment of the cryptocurrency industry accusing the state agency of restricting free expression. In this vein, cryptocurrency exchange Coinbase has agreed to support a lawsuit launched by Tornado Cash users against the Treasury Department.
Furthermore, the government is facing a second lawsuit alleging that sanctions against Tornado Cash abused its authority and targeted cryptocurrency investors across the United States.
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