While in New York last week attending a CLE conference, I took a moment to visit the United States District Courthouse for the Southern District of New York in Manhattan and watch some of the Nathaniel Chastain federal criminal trial. As I have previously blogged:

In May of 2022, Former OpenSea employee, Nathaniel Chastain, was indicted on one count of wire fraud, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1349, and one count of concealment money laundering, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1956(a)(1)(B)(i). The government essentially accuses Chastain of using his insider knowledge to profit from NFTs featured on OpenSea's homepage. Chastain was responsible for selecting NFTs that would be featured on OpenSea’s homepage. The government alleges Chastain abused his position by buying featured NFTs and then selling it at a profit using anonymous accounts. Crypto Criminal Defense Lawyer Blog

The defense reseted its case on Friday and the Judge scheduled closing arguments for Monday, May 1, 2023. Yesterday the parties made their closing arguments and the case is now with the jury for deliberations. Crypto Criminal Defense Lawyer Blog 

I had the pleasure of speaking this weekend at the New York State Bar Association’s CLE conference at NYU entitled: Deep Dive Into The Metaverse And Web3: The First Global Law Symposium on the topic of money laundering and blockchain crime. 

The conference was put on by the State Bar’s Task Force on Emerging Digital Finance and Currency—which is leading the nation in helping to educate and on-board lawyers into digital asset tech law. The featured speakers at this first of its kind Global Law Symposium were some of the top lawyers in the world on the subject of blockchain and web3 technology. I was truly honored to be a part of this amazing event. 

One of the subjects we covered was how transnational criminal organizations profile and target unsuspecting victims through a sophisticated social engineering fraud practice known as “pig butchering”. Crypto Criminal Defense Lawyer Blog 

The US Department of Justice has unsealed two federal indictments charging a North Korean Foreign Trade Bank representative and three over-the-counter traders for their roles in money laundering schemes using cryptocurrency. Crypto Criminal Defense Lawyer Blog 

      “The charges announced today highlight the ways in which North Korean operatives have innovated their approach to evading sanctions by exploiting the technological features of virtual assets to facilitate payments and profits, and targeting virtual currency companies for theft,” said Assistant Attorney General Kenneth A. Polite, Jr. of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division. “We will continue to work to disrupt and deter North Korean actors and those who aid them by following the money on the blockchain and shining a light on their conduct.”

Coinbase filed a lawsuit against the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) seeking a writ of mandamus. The company has been urging the SEC to establish clear rules for the offer, sale, registration, and trading of digital asset securities, aiming to provide fair notice to all market participants and facilitate global resolution through consolidated judicial review. Coinbase argues that despite numerous efforts, including a rulemaking petition, meetings, and supplemental comments, the SEC has not taken any action on Coinbase's request or provided feedback on its proposals.

Coinbase's July 2022 rulemaking petition called for clarity in several areas, such as the identification of digital assets that are securities, registration of issuers, exemptions and mandatory disclosures, and registration of exchanges. Coinbase notes that over a thousand entities and individuals have filed comments supporting their call for regulatory clarity. Despite these calls clarity, Coinbase maintains the the SEC has instead opted ramp up efforts to regulate retrospectively through enforcement actions and even threatened Coinbase with such actions. Crypto Criminal Defense Lawyer Blog 

Yet more than nine months (and counting) after Coinbase submitted its origi- nal petition, the SEC still has taken no action on Coinbase’s petition or provided any feedback on Coinbase’s proposals.24 Instead, it has ramped up efforts to regulate retrospectively by bringing enforcement actions—and has now threatened one against Coinbase. On March 22, 2023, the SEC served a Wells notice on Coinbase alleging (among other things) that unspecified portions of Coinbase’s listed digital assets are unregistered securities—even while the Commission still refuses to ad- dress Coinbase’s rulemaking petition asking the agency to open a path to registration for digital assets that the Commission believes to be securities. writ of mandamus

An indictment was unsealed on April 24th in Miami charging two U.S. citizens and a South African national with conspiring to manipulate the market for HYDRO, a virtual asset created by the Hydrogen Technology Corporation. Two other individuals were also charged in separate charging documents for their roles in the scheme filed in the Southern District of Florida. 

Back in September 2022, the SEC filed a complaint against HYDRO.  SEC Press Release On April 20, 2023, the SEC settled with HYDRO. https://cointelegraph.com/news/sec-wins-2-8m-in-suit-over-alleged-crypto-token-price-manipulation. On April 24, 2023, the DOJ returned an indictment charging defendant’s with conspiracy to commit wire fraud as well as conspiracy to commit securities price manipulation.  Crypto Criminal Defense Lawyer Blog