Australian man jailed for a year over Bitcoin money laundering scheme

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Australian jailed for a year for trading Bitcoin

An Australian man living in Boulder, Colorado has been jailed for one year and one day after being convicted of laundering drug money through Bitcoin.

Emilio Testa, aged 32, was sent to prison after the US District Attorney’s Office successfully prosecuted the case he had acquired the funds in narcotics deals and had been trying to launder the money.

Testa had attempted to argue “he preferred not to use banks or deal with taxes.”

According to a release from the Justice Department, Testa had agreed to facts in a plea agreement that he had been in contact with undercover agents about his desire to convert US dollars into Bitcoin because he did not wish to use banks or deal with taxes.

“On two occasions in 2016, the defendant and undercover agents conducted money exchanges.

“Testa and the undercover agents remained in contact throughout 2016 and 2017.  Subsequently, in March 2018, Testa contacted an undercover agent about selling Bitcoin for U.S. dollars.

“During this meeting, Testa agreed to exchange Bitcoin for cash from narcotics proceeds.

“He completed a second such transaction in May 2018, while understanding that the transaction would conceal or disguise the nature, location, source, ownership or control of money he believed to be the proceeds of narcotics trafficking.”

United States Attorney Jason Dunn
United States Attorney Jason Dunn (DOJ website)

We will find you

The US attorney Jason Dunn warned others that Bitcoin was no way to cover criminal activity,

“Trying to hide criminal proceeds in Bitcoin? We’re going to find you,” said United States Attorney Jason Dunn.

“Working in tandem with our federal partners, our prosecutors are leading the fight against cryptocurrency crimes.”

“Criminals may be sophisticated enough to use cryptocurrency but they’re not smart enough to stay out of jail, as this conviction shows,” said Steven Cagen, Special Agent in Charge, HSI Denver.

“Our agents will continue to shine a light on criminals who use the dark web and Bitcoin to try and conceal their illegal activity.”

“Investigating cyber-enabled schemes is a top priority for IRS-CI and our Special Agents are experts in conducting complex financial investigations, including those committed on the ‘dark web’ with virtual currency,” said Acting IRS-Criminal Investigation Special Agent in Charge Kevin Caramucci.

“This sentence shows those choosing to conduct illegal activities, including laundering narcotics proceeds, on the dark web are not hidden from law enforcement’s radar,” he said.

Editor’s note: This article has been updated to better clarify the circumstances of Mr. Testa’s conviction and subsequent sentencing.