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DOJ Charges Samourai Wallet Founders With Money Laundering

DOJ Charges Samourai Wallet Founders With Money Laundering

Apr 24, 2024

DOJ Charges Samourai Wallet Founders With Money Laundering

Federal prosecutors have charged the founders of Samourai Wallet, Keonne Rodriguez and William Lonergan Hill, with conspiracy to commit money laundering and operating an unlicensed money transmitting business. The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) alleges that the privacy-focused Bitcoin wallet and mixer has facilitated over $100 million in money laundering transactions from "illegal dark web markets" and partook in a total of around $2 billion in "unlawful transactions" since 2015.

Rodriguez, 35, and Hill, 65, were arrested on Wednesday, with Rodriguez being apprehended in Pennsylvania and Hill in Portugal. The United States is seeking Hill's extradition to stand trial. The pair reportedly collected approximately $4.5 million in fees for their mixing services. These charges carry a maximum sentence of 20 years and 5 years, respectively.

The DOJ press release cites direct quotes from the accused, including a private message attributed to Hill: "At Samourai we are entirely focused on the censorship resistance and black/grey circular markets have already started to expand during covid and will continue to do so post-covid…"

IRS-CI Special Agent in Charge Thomas Fattorusso remarked on the oversight implications, stating, “$2 billion in transactions with an unlicensed money transmitter means $2 billion flowed without any oversight, from whomever to wherever.” The coordinated law enforcement efforts also led to the seizure of Samourai's web servers and domain in Iceland and the Samourai Wallet mobile application from the Google Play Store.

"Rodriguez and Hill allegedly knowingly facilitated the laundering of over $100 million of criminal proceeds from the Silk Road, Hydra Market, and a host of other computer hacking and fraud campaigns. Together with our law enforcement partners, we will continue to relentlessly pursue and dismantle criminal organizations that use cryptocurrency to hide illicit conduct,” said U.S. Attorney Damian Williams.

FBI Assistant Director in Charge James Smith stated, “Threat actors utilize technology to evade law enforcement detection and create environments conducive to criminal activity. For almost 10 years, Keonne Rodriguez and William Hill allegedly operated a mobile cryptocurrency mixing platform which provided other criminals a virtual haven for the clandestine exchange of illicit funds, the facilitation of more than $2 billion in illegal transactions, and $100 million in dark web money laundering. The FBI is committed to exposing covert financial schemes and ensuring no one can hide behind a screen to perpetuate financial wrongdoing.”

DOJ Press Release

CoinDesk Article

Bitcoin Magazine Article


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