The Launch Of FBI Crypto Force And Its Impact Digital Asset Space

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  • United States Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco in a speech at the Munich Cyber Security Conference announced the formation of the new task force “dedicated to cryptocurrency.”
  • The new task force is named as Virtual Asset Exploitation Unit (VAXU). It will have personnel from various units of the FBI.
  • Even though VAXU is primarily affiliated with the FBI, it is going to be part of the National Cryptocurrency Enforcement Team (NCET). 

Lisa Monaco, United States Deputy Attorney General, in an announcement on Feb 17 informed about the formation of the new task force “dedicated to cryptocurrency” within the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) at the Munich Cyber Security Conference. It is a big step towards the US government’s drive against criminal abuse of cryptocurrencies, especially four months after the launch of the Justice Department’s National Cryptocurrency Enforcement Team (NCET).

Know More About The Virtual Asset Exploitation Unit (VAXU)

The new task force is christened as the Virtual Asset Exploitation Unit (VAXU), Monaco revealed in the announcement. The task force will consist of personnel from different units of the FBI with expertise to do investigations that leverage blockchain analysis that can end up in virtual assets’ seizure. Although there is a lot to be revealed yet, however, Monaco clearly put forward the major focus, which is to battle against cyber ransomware in her speech: 

Just like other crimes in the crypto world, Ransomware and digital extortion will continue to happen till the malicious actors are getting paid. It is therefore important to burst their “business model”. She further added that it doesn’t matter if the currency is virtual, there is a clear message for companies despite the “if you report to us, we can follow the money and not only help you but hopefully prevent the next victim.

The VAXU also intends to work in collaboration with foreign task forces in tracking multinational criminal networks operating in crypto.


VAXU will also be part of the National Cryptocurrency Enforcement Team (NCET) even though it is primarily affiliated with the FBI. The National Cryptocurrency Enforcement Team was launched in Oct. 2021, with money launderers and cybercriminals as its primary targets. 

As mentioned in the official release, the goal of the NCET is to solve the complex investigations and prosecutions of criminal misuses of cryptocurrency, especially the crimes committed by mixing and tumbling services, virtual currency exchanges, and money laundering infrastructure actors.

The NCET’s mission includes recognizing spots for increased investigative and prosecutorial focus, investigation and prosecution of cryptocurrency cases, building relationships with crypto-adjacent units and officers across the law enforcement system, and partnering with industry players.

Brand New Face Of NCET

Ex-senior counsel to the Deputy Attorney General, Eun Young Choi was appointed to lead the NCET on Feb. 17. Choi has experience as the cybercrime coordinator at the U.S. attorney’s office for the Southern District of New York.

Partner in the privacy and cybersecurity practice at Sidley Austin law firm, Sujit Raman highlighted the consistency of the current U.S. law enforcement approach. The Department of Justice in a public announcement in early 2018 stated that “cybercriminals increasingly use virtual currencies to advance their activities and to conceal their assets.” It also revealed its plans to continue solving the potential threats imposed by cryptocurrencies that bad actors usually use. 

Role Of Executive Synergies

Chairperson of Eversheds Sutherland’s Cybersecurity, Michael Bahar revealed in an interview that there is going to be a synergistic effect on the prospective cooperation between regulatory bodies and DOJ. Commenting on the matter, Bahar said: 

The Securities and Exchange Commission and financial regulators will also be benefitted from the increasing experience and expertise within the Department of Justice. Naturally, the Department of Justice will be expected to improve its engagement with state and local law enforcement in the United States and around the world. 

In response to the rapidly growing crypto space, law enforcement around the world are adjusting themselves according to it. 

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