Bitcoin Fog Boss Jailed: A Tale of Dual Citizenship & Crime

Quick Look

  • A jury found Roman Sterlingov, who holds dual Russian-Swiss citizenship, guilty of four charges linked to laundering activities via Bitcoin Fog.
  • Bitcoin Fog, known for mixing bitcoins, faced implications in the laundering of over 1.2 million bitcoins, valued at around $860 million.
  • Authorities arrested Sterlingov in 2021, and he now faces up to 20 years in prison on the most severe charge, with his sentencing scheduled for July 15.
  • Trial witnesses include figures from other prominent crypto laundering cases, hinting at a broader crackdown on illegal crypto activities.
  • Sterlingov’s conviction underscores increasing legal scrutiny on cryptocurrency mixing services.

Roman Sterlingov faced conviction on Tuesday for his involvement in operating Bitcoin Fog, a cryptocurrency mixing service implicated in significant laundering activities. Consequently, a federal jury in Washington delivered the verdict, emphasizing Sterlingov’s role in laundering approximately 1.2 million bitcoins, which today holds a value of about $860 million. Therefore, these funds, primarily from darknet marketplaces, highlight the service’s connection to illicit online transactions.

Arrest and Charges

Authorities arrested Sterlingov, 35, in April 2021. The arrest took place at Los Angeles International Airport. He faced charges including money laundering, operating an unlicensed money-transmitting business, and conspiracy to launder money. Despite this, Sterlingov and his defense denied having operational control or collecting fees from Bitcoin Fog. Nevertheless, after a month-long trial, the jury found him guilty on all accounts.

Wider Crackdown on Crypto Mixing

Sterlingov’s conviction highlights an ongoing trend. Legal actions are intensifying against those connected to cryptocurrency mixing services. This method aims to conceal the origins of cryptocurrencies obtained illegally. Furthermore, during Sterlingov’s trial, testimony was provided by Larry Harmon and Ilya Lichtenstein. Both have been involved in separate, well-known crypto laundering cases. This suggests a united effort by authorities to break down these networks.

Implications and Sentencing

The outcome of Sterlingov’s trial highlights the legal risks of illicit cryptocurrency operations. Moreover, it sets a precedent for future trials involving figures in the crypto mixing space. Sterlingov’s sentencing is scheduled for July 15. Consequently, he could face a lengthy prison term. This underscores the severe consequences of engaging in cryptocurrency laundering.

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