A U.S. man faces five years behind bars, along with a $250,000 fine, if he’s convicted on charges of selling BTC and ETH to his customers without registering his business. Michael Yusko allegedly sold the digital currencies through his five companies.
The U.S. Department of Justice announced the charges recently, charging Yusko in a Bill of Information with operating an unlicensed money transmitting business.
Under U.S. federal law, any business that engages in acceptance of currency, funds or other value that substitutes for currency is deemed a money transmitting business. This encompasses fiat currencies such as the U.S. dollar as well as digital currencies such as Bitcoin (BSV), BTC and ETH. Such companies must register with the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN), a bureau of the Treasury Department that combats money laundering.
Yusko, who resided in New Orleans, Louisiana, allegedly operated his business from at least August 2017 to June 2019. He purportedly had four businesses, all of which engaged in the sale of digital currencies: Nervous Light Capital, Praetorian Energy, Patriot Concrete Pumping and Ready Demolition LLC.
The DoJ is seeking to have Yusko forfeit any property which he derived from proceeds traceable to the offense. If any of the property can’t be located, has been sold to a third party or has seen its value diminish, Yusko shall forfeit any other property up to that value.
Aside from the forfeiture, Yusko is looking at a maximum of five years behind bars for his crime and up to three years in supervised release. He will also have to pay a $250,000 fine.
The DoJ has continued to go after digital currency-related offenders, with a sizeable number now behind bars. As CoinGeek reported earlier this month, a California man is set to spend two years in jail over an illegal BTC ATM operation. The operation reportedly processed up to $25 million in BTC. The DoJ was able to recover over $1 million in BTC, Ether and cash from the BTC operator.
Seizing BTC used in illegal activities has become quite critical to the DoJ’s efforts in fighting crime. It recently recovered $2.3 million which was part of the ransom that Colonial Pipeline had paid to Russian-affiliated hackers.
The department recently published a job posting for a digital currency trial attorney for its money laundering and asset recovery division, in line with its recent efforts.