The judge ordered pre-trial detention for Ilya Lichtenstein claiming he had the motive and the resources to flee and could become a flight risk.
The husband-wife duo accused in the infamous $3.6 billion Bitcoin (BTC) money laundering case had quite a contrasting valentine. A federal judge upheld the decision of a suspended release for wife Heather Morgan while husband Ilya Lichtenstein has been sent to pre-trial detention.
Beryl A. Howell, the chief judge at the Federal District Court in Columbia, ruled that Lichtenstein has the motivation and resources to flee and thus must be kept under detention. While Morgan managed to fulfill the criteria for a suspended release on a bond of $3 million.
The lawyer representing the couple denied any motivation for fleeing and argued that despite being under investigation from last year, the couple had no plans of leaving the country, citing their family ties and future plans, reported NYT.
Related: Meet the ‘comedic rapper’ charged over Bitfinex hack laundering
The prime accused in the case are suspected of laundering 94,000 BTC out of 119,754 BTC stolen from the Bitfinex crypto exchange in 2016, estimated to be worth over $5.1 billion in today’s value. The early investigation found no connection between the duo and the theft of the funds back in 2016. However, they were found to be actively involved in laundering the money using a sophisticated network of accounts.
The United States Department of Justice (DoJ) confiscated 94,000 BTC associated with the hack in possession of Lichtenstein, making it the biggest crypto seizure in the agency’s history. The DoJ first traced back 25,000 BTC from the Bitifinex hack to the financial accounts controlled by the couple and later recovered a total of $3.6 billion worth of BTC in their possession.
The largest Bitcoin hack has already become a trending topic in the social circles and Netflix, the online streaming giant has already announced a new documentary series covering the theft and money laundering by the couple.