An Ohio man who operated platforms allegedly used to launder Bitcoin for criminals is facing a $60 million civil penalty by the U.S. Treasury Department’s financial crimes unit.
The fine against Larry Dean Harmon of Akron, Ohio, marks the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network’s first action against so-called “mixers” or “tumblers” — fee-based services that mix digital assets to make them more difficult to trace back to the original holder.
Harmon operated unregistered money services businesses in violation of the Bank Secrecy Act, doing business as Helix from 2014 to 2017 and Coin Ninja from 2017 to 2020, FinCEN said in a Monday release.
Helix helped process more than 1.2 million transactions, including more than $311 million worth of Bitcoin transactions.
Harmon advertised his services’ ability to obfuscate illicit transactions to drug traffickers, counterfeiters and fraudsters on the dark web, FinCEN said in its release.
Harmon not only intentionally violated anti-money laundering reporting laws, but also deleted the scant amount of information he collected on customers, FinCEN said.
Attorneys for Harmon didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.
FinCEN has been scrutinizing transactions involving digital currencies for a number of years. Those efforts have included repeated reminders of BSA and anti-money laundering legal obligations for companies providing transaction services, and a compliance reminder on Sept. 29 to banks about their own crypto risk exposure.
The Justice Department unsealed parallel criminal money laundering charges against Harmon in February in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. The court in July declined Harmon’s bid to dismiss the charges.
The criminal case is USA v. Harmon, D.D.C., No. 19-cr-00395, motion for reconsideration 9/30/20.