US DOJ Sues Founder of Defunct Crypto Mixer Over Failure to Pay $60M Fine



The United States Department of Justice (DOJ) has sued Larry Dean Harmon, the founder of defunct cryptocurrency mixer Helix, for failing to pay a civil penalty of $60 million since his indictment in 2020. 

The lawsuit was filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia on Wednesday. According to the filing, the $60 million fine was imposed on Harmon after he pled guilty to charges against him in 2020.

Helix Laundered Over $300M

In December 2019, the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN), a bureau of the U.S. Treasury Department, indicted the Helix creator for violating the federal Bank Secrecy Act (BSA). The agency accused the developer of conspiring to launder monetary instruments and operating an unlicensed money-transmitting business through his crypto mixer.

Before the indictment, Harmon operated Helix as a crypto tumbler from June 2014 through December 2017. During its active years, Helix processed over $311 million in more than 1.2 million transactions.

In July 2017, Harmon became the CEO of Coin Ninja, a crypto exchange that also provided mixing services. The firm also offered DropBit, a service that allowed users to send and receive bitcoins through text messages and Twitter handles without going through the know-your-customer (KYC) procedures.

FinCEN noted that Coin Ninja, DropBit, and Helix were not registered as money services businesses during their operation.

DOJ Seeks Interest and Costs

Harmon pleaded guilty to the money laundering conspiracy charge in August last year. FinCEN imposed a $60 million penalty on him for “willfully violating” the anti-money laundering (AML) act.

But since then, Harmon has not paid the penalty charge, hence the DOJ’s latest lawsuit. The filing asked the court to order Harmon to pay the penalty plus interest and costs.

“The United States respectfully requests that the Court reduce the civil penalty assessed by FinCEN against Harmon to judgment by awarding the United States a money judgment in an amount to be determined by the Court, plus interest as provided by law, and award such other relief as the Court deems just and proper,” it read.

Meanwhile, the court deferred Harmon’s sentencing, and it is pending cooperation with the U.S. government.

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