The US Financial Crimes Agency imposed a $60 million fine on the founder and administrator of Helix and Coin Ninja, a bitcoin mixer operator, for violating bank secrecy laws.
FinCEN announced a $60 million fine on Larry Dean Harmon, founder, administrator and primary operator of bitcoin mixers Helix and Coin Ninja, for violations of the Bank Secrecy Act (BSA) and its other regulations.
“Harmon operated Helix as an unregistered money services business (MSB) from 2014 to 2017 and Coin Ninja from 2017 to 2020. Mr. Harmon is currently being prosecuted in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia on charges of conspiracy to launder monetary instruments and the operation of unlicensed money transmitting business in connection with his operation of Helix,” FinCEN said in a statement.
In 2013, FinCEN published guidance that cryptocurrency exchangers and their administrators are required to register their activities with FinCEN and comply with banking secrecy laws and recordkeeping requirements applicable to financial services.
According to FinCEN, from June 2014 to December 2017, more than 1,225,000 transactions with a total value of over $311 million were processed through Helix. FinCEN’s investigation revealed at least 356,000 bitcoin transactions made through Helix. On the darknet, Helix was advertised as a mixer that helps to make anonymous payments, including payments for products such as drugs, guns and child pornography. The investigation revealed that Harmon was involved in financial transactions with drug dealers, counterfeiters and other fraudsters. Helix failed to comply with bank secrecy requirements, which include collecting and verifying customer names, addresses, and other identifiers.
“Harmon, operating through Helix, actively deleted even the minimal customer information he did collect,” FinCEN said in a statement.
In addition to FinCEN, the US Department of Justice, US Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia, Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and Internal Revenue Service’s (IRS) Criminal Investigations Division were involved in the investigation.