‘Razzlekhan’ couple pleads guilty in Bitfinex bitcoin hack case

Notorious couple pleads guilty to counts of money laundering in one of the largest heists in crypto history

article-image

Alexander Supertramp/shutterstock modified by Blockworks

share

A year and a half after their arrest in February 2022, a husband and wife team have pled guilty to charges of money laundering and conspiracy related to the theft of $3.6 billion in digital assets — one of the largest heists in crypto history. 

Both Ilya Lichtenstein and Heather “Razzlekhan” Morgan faced Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly of the Federal District Court in Washington, D.C. on Thursday during separate hearings.

During the Thursday afternoon hearing, Morgan pled guilty to one count of money laundering and one count of conspiracy to defraud the United States. Each count carries a maximum of five years in jail.

Morgan told the court that she had a “growing awareness” that her husband — who paid rent to her in crypto as far back as 2014 — sourced his digital wealth through illegal means. Additionally, she became fully aware of his involvement in the 2016 hack on crypto exchange Bitfinex in “early 2020.” 

At that point, she became actively involved in the attempted money laundering process. Morgan said she took actions such as memorizing a Monero seed phrase, burying physical golden coins, and setting up a company designed, in part, to help launder funds through under the guise of B2B sales. 

Both Morgan and Lichtenstein are due to provide the court an update on restitution and forfeiture efforts on Nov. 3, and their sentencing date is still pending.

Lichtenstein, during his hearing, reportedly admitted to being behind the Bitfinex hack in 2016.

The couple was arrested in their Manhattan apartment in 2022 after a year-long investigation into the 2016 Bitfinex hack of nearly 120,000 BTC. The loss was worth the equivalent of $70 million at the time, but ballooned as high as $3.6 billion by the time government officials seized the stolen funds. The couple were not charged for the theft of the bitcoin itself. 

Per a July 20 court filing, the couple face two charges of money laundering conspiracy and one count of conspiracy to defraud the United States. Per the plea agreement, the couple will forfeit over $3 billion in assets

Morgan’s flamboyant, rapping alter-ego became a focal point for media attention following the arrests, and the couple have since been the subject of numerous documentaries. 

Katherine Ross contributed reporting.


Start your day with top crypto insights from David Canellis and Katherine Ross. Subscribe to the Empire newsletter.

The Lightspeed newsletter is all things Solana, in your inbox, every day. Subscribe to daily Solana news from Jack Kubinec and Jeff Albus.

Tags

Upcoming Events

Salt Lake City, UT

MON - TUES, OCT. 7 - 8, 2023

Blockworks and Bankless in collaboration with buidlbox are excited to announce the second installment of the Permissionless Hackathon – taking place October 7-8 in Salt Lake City, Utah. We’ve partnered with buidlbox to bring together the brightest minds in crypto for […]

Salt Lake City, UT

WED - FRI, OCTOBER 9 - 11, 2024

Pack your bags, anon — we’re heading west! Join us in the beautiful Salt Lake City for the third installment of Permissionless. Come for the alpha, stay for the fresh air. Permissionless III promises unforgettable panels, killer networking opportunities, and mountains […]

recent research

Research Report Cover Vertex.jpg

Research

The proliferation of new perp DEXs has led to fragmented liquidity across various DEXs and chains. Vertex, known for its vertically-integrated DEX that includes spot, perpetual, and integrated money markets, is now tackling cross-chain liquidity fragmentation through horizontal integration with the launch of new Edge instances. Vertex's integrated offerings and cross-margined account structure amplify the benefits of new instances: native cross-chain spot trading, optimized cross-chain basis trading, consistent interest rates, reduced bridging friction, and more.

article-image

Partnering with EtherFi and Angle, the fully on-chain perp DEX features bespoke collateral

article-image

Sponsored

Gavin Wood introduced the next evolutionary step for the Polkadot network: the Join-Accumulate Machine, or JAM

article-image

The side events were the places to be at Consensus 2024, according to attendees

article-image

Also, who’s come out swinging in the spot ether ETF fee war — and who could undercut them

article-image

I know it is not in their nature, but US regulators could learn a lot by researching the digital asset frameworks that overseas regulators have already gotten right

article-image

Also, the ETF hype train can count out at least one member