Headline: What is NCET?

Body:    So, I grew up in the 1980s, and I loved watching the A-Team.  Each team member would have different skills, and added up, all of the efforts would serve to magnify their effect.   This seems to be the idea behind National Cryptocurrency Enforcement Team (NCET) with respect to the $2 Trillion cryptocurrency area.

Do they ride around in a black van, or did they have jobs before?

They all worked for the Federal Government before.   Specifically, they come from a few sources:

  1.  Money Laundering and Asset Recovery Section (MLARS) within the DOJ
  2. Computer Crime and IP Section
  3. Personnel detailed from the U.S. Attorneys’ Office

The leader within NCET will report to the Assistant Attorney General (Criminal Division.)


Yes, it is interesting.   The mission statement for the NCET is full of the verbiage you might expect, but it interestingly focuses upon recovery of ill-gotten gains.  NCET will also focus upon providing specialized assistance to State and local municipalities to help them as they struggle to control these technology-linked crimes.    Later in the Press Release, the exact functions of the NCET is discussed and all the bullet points are kind of as expected.  But the last one is special.  It says that NCET personnel will be working with many different cryptocurrency firms to help understand and guide the self-governance of the industry.  So, they seem to have a rather intriguing portfolio.  They have to  prosecute crimes perpetrated by people who are almost their colleagues.      I know that this might not pass the sniff test.   But, with any nascent technology, I think government really has to begin in this posture.  Before we had the FAA, pilots and executives  from the small airlines were doubtless advising the regulators.


The DOJ announced the appointment of the Director of NCET, Eun Young Choi.   She is a prosecutor with almost 10 years experience within the DOJ.  She seems to have been genetically engineered for the job.   She attended Harvard Law and served as a Cryptocurrency coordinator within the Courts.    She also has a Bachelor’s Degree in Economics.  She certainly has the technical chops for the job, and seems to have the leadership experience.  Beyond this, colleagues refer to her as “EYC” which sounds akin to a WWF wrestler’s moniker.  So, she seems especially prepared to put the smackdown on cryptocurrency schemes.

So, it’s ALL good?

Well, maybe not.  Admittedly my research is not canonical, but, it seems like the small team might have a portfolio out of proportion with their size.   The information I read talked about going after narcotics, hacking exploits and ransomware in addition to the enforcement of more standard Federal Regulations.  This seems like a very unfocused mandate that could quickly become unmanageable.  I think Ms. Choi will have her hands full.

The A-Team had an almost equivalent squad of Army MPs chasing them.   Is this happening here?

Yes.    The FBI is in the process of creating their Virtual Asset Exploitation Unit.  The particulars of this office also seem to be in a developmental phase.  But, even now, it appears that the FBI team will be focusing on the  state actors like North Korea and Iran, and tumbling or mixing companies in cryptocurrency.  (Mixing and tumbling are just ways to help disguise the source of funds used in cryptocurrency.) Regardless of the focus of each group, they both appear to be well-designed for effectiveness, as the Federal Government has a pretty good record overall.  The Government recovered almost all of the money paid to the perpetrators of the Colonial Pipeline incident.

The Verdict

“The department has been at the forefront of investigating and prosecuting crimes involving digital currencies since their inception,” said Director Choi. “The NCET will play a pivotal role in ensuring that as the technology surrounding digital assets grows and evolves, the department in turn accelerates and expands its efforts to combat their illicit abuse by criminals of all kinds.”   This quotation is what is expected from a leader within the Federal Government.   But, I am a little concerned about the latter portion.  “Grows and evolves…accelerates and expands.”  It’s always something of a sport within the Federal Government to engineer your mandate to be very broad and command a larger portion of the budget.  Unless carefully shepherded, this ambiguity in mission could either provide them the flexibility that they need, or, such a large portfolio, that they are courting disaster.  I sincerely hope it’s the former, and not the latter.






Editor’s Note: Please note that the information contained herein is meant only for general education: This should not be construed as Tax Advice.   Personal attributes could make a material difference in the advice given, so, before taking action, please consult your tax advisor or CPA.


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