The cryptocurrency industry should brace itself for increased scrutiny from the DOJ and other enforcement agencies. The DOJ recently announced the creation of a National Cryptocurrency Enforcement Team (“NCET”), which will have the authority to tackle investigations and prosecutions of criminal misuses of cryptocurrency. NCET will not only pursue its own cases but will work closely with other federal agencies, subject matter experts, and law enforcement partners throughout the government to support existing and future cases across the country.

  • The announcement further suggests that NCET’s initial mandate will broaden the enforcement focus from criminal actors themselves to those who enable and facilitate illicit activities involving cryptocurrency.
  • Cryptocurrency exchanges should take appropriate steps to work with counsel to avoid becoming the subject of a DOJ investigation or prosecution.
  • The increased scrutiny will also likely extend to all cryptocurrency-focused businesses, NFT platforms, companies that accept cryptocurrency as payment, and even those that merely do business with third parties dealing in cryptocurrency.
  • Given the heightened scrutiny from the DOJ and a constantly evolving regulatory landscape, all companies in the industry should evaluate compliance programs and practices to mitigate risk and exposure.

In this C&G client alert, Christian R Everdell and Barbara K Luse explore the specifics of the NCET mandate, including its anticipated collaboration with the SEC and other federal agencies, and examine what’s on the horizon for cryptocurrency exchanges and other cryptocurrency-focused businesses. The authors identify some key takeaways for companies dealing with cryptocurrency, including cryptocurrency exchanges, crypto funds and financial institutions, and more.