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New York couple accused of laundering $4.5 billion worth of crypto still in plea talks

WASHINGTON, May 31 (Reuters) – A New York couple accused of laundering $4.5 billion worth of cryptocurrency linked to the 2016 hack of digital currency exchange Bitfinex are still negotiating a possible plea deal while examining more than 1.1 gigabytes of evidence in the case, prosecutors said.

Ilya “Dutch” Lichtenstein, 34, and his wife, Heather Morgan, 32, the self-proclaimed “Crocodile of Wall Street”, were scheduled to appear in federal court in Washington on Friday.

But in a filing in court on Monday, US Memorial Day, federal prosecutors asked to postpone the hearing until August 2, citing “discussions regarding possible resolutions of the case before trial” and the need for the accused of reviewing “voluminous financial records”. provided by the government.

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Lichtenstein and Morgan were arrested in February and charged in a criminal complaint with conspiracy to launder 119,754 stolen bitcoins after a hacker in 2016 broke into Bitfinex and initiated more than 2,000 unauthorized transactions.

US Department of Justice officials said the transactions at the time were valued at $71 million in bitcoins, but with the rise in the currency’s value, the value reached $4.5 billion at the time. of their arrest.

The couple had active public profiles, with Morgan known as the rap singer “Razzlekhan”, a pseudonym which she said on her website referred to Genghis Khan “but with more pizzazz”.

A grand jury has yet to return an indictment against the couple, after prosecutors first reported in March that they had agreed to stay the Speedy Trial Act to discuss a possible settlement. advocacy.

Lichtenstein is being held without bond, while Morgan has been placed under house arrest.

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Reporting by Sarah N. Lynch; Editing by Howard Goller

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