As part of Washington’s jaw-dropping $4.8 trillion budget structure for next year, a massive $2.4bn has been earmarked for the US Secret Service department to establish a financial crime investigations unit – with a remit for tackling crypto crime.
The announcement comes on the back of court proceedings relating to one of the world’s biggest financial frauds – the $4bn OneCoin scam, which recently saw two of its ringleaders facing verdicts in New York.
Lawyer Mark Scott will be sentenced in April after being found guilty of laundering $400m from which the 51-year-old is believed to have personally taken around $50m. He faces decades behind bars.
Konstantin Ignatov – his accomplice – was also found guilty but accepted a plea bargain that spared him a staggering 90-year prison sentence. Younger brother of OneCoin’s mastermind Ruja Ignatova, the 33-year-old agreed to cooperate with agents by helping them to locate his sister and other members of the Bulgarian Mafia involved in the global scam.
Ignatova remains at large after disappearing in 2017 as the net closed in on the 38-year-old and the massive Ponzi scheme she plotted from her offices in Sofia.
It is believed the Secret Service will now pick up the hunt for the self-proclaimed ‘Cryptoqueen’ who has been on the run for almost three years.
The move to bring crypto investigations under the jurisdiction of the USSS also falls in line with President Trump’s apparent war on cryptocurrency.
The 73-year-old has struggled to hide his contempt for digital assets. Only last year he branded bitcoin as being “based on nothing but thin air” and even hinted at making cryptocurrency illegal in a fierce attack against an idea he said was a dangerous avenue to undermining the global might of the US dollar.
In the 2021 Budget Report, it states the restructuring of patrolling financial crime was designed to protect the USA from ‘the threats of tomorrow’, singling out cryptocurrency as a particular challenge to national security.
The report says: “Technological advancements in recent decades, such as cryptocurrencies and the increasing inter-connectedness of the international financial marketplace, have resulted in more complex criminal organizations and revealed stronger links between financial and electronic crimes and the financing of terrorists and rogue state actors.
“The Budget proposes legislation to return the US Secret Service to Treasury to create new efficiencies in the investigation of these crimes and prepare the Nation to face the threats of tomorrow.”
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