Federal Judge Orders Husband to Go to Pre-Trial Detention in Bitfinex Case

The lengthy court processes have begun for the husband and wife who were accused of money laundering linked with the hack of the Bitfinex crypto exchange. The charges against the couple include attempting to launder money worth $3.6 billion in the form of BTC that was stolen from the exchange. A federal judge allowed the wife, Heather Morgan, to be released on bail on February 14th. However, the husband, Ilya Lichtenstein, has been sent to pre-trial detention because the prosecutors had argued that he was a flight risk. Beryl A. Howell, the chief judge presiding over the federal District Court of Colombia, stated that the husband had enough resources to flee.

Therefore, he decided to send him to pre-trial detention instead of granting bail. In contrast, the wife met all the requirements necessary for being released on bail. The couple’s lawyer had argued that the two did not pose a flight risk because they had future plans and family ties in the country. The lawyer went on to say that the husband and wife were being investigated for the past year, but had not made any attempt to leave the country at any time. The accusations against the couple include attempting to launder a total of 94,000 BTC.

This was part of the cryptocurrency that had been stolen from the Bitfinex crypto exchange, which had suffered from a hack back in 2016. During the hack, the cryptocurrency exchange had seen its reserves drained and total amount of 119,754 bitcoins had been stolen, which had been estimated to be worth approximately $5.1 billion. It was discovered that the couple was using a very sophisticated system for laundering the money. The largest seizure of cryptocurrencies was made by the United Sates Department of Justice (DoJ) after they recovered the BTC that had been stolen when the Bitfinex exchange was hacked.

Almost 94,000 BTC had been recovered that had been stolen in the hack. Lictenstein owned this cryptocurrency and the DOJ had its suspicions about it being stolen in the Bitfinex hack. Therefore, they had been monitoring the movement of these funds. Further investigation had revealed that the couple was in possession of the Bitcoins that had been stolen and they recovered about $3.6 billion worth of the coins. The Bitfinex exchange had been the largest hack of the world’s leading cryptocurrency. The crypto community had mixed reactions to the recovery of the coins that had been stolen in the hack.

It also pushed up the price of the native token of the Bitfinex exchange, known as LEO. At the time of the hack, the 94,000 bitcoins that had been drained from the cryptocurrency exchange had been valued at $74 million. But, due to the surge in Bitcoin’s value, the coins are now worth $3.6 billion. The crypto community was quick to point out that this meant high profits for the exchange. Netflix is now planning on making a documentary on the hack and how the money was laundered by the couple.