Business 16 July 2018

Dennis Wafula

Crypto trader ‘Bitcoin Maven’ faces jail time over money laundering charge

Last week, a 50-year-old woman pleaded guilty to charges of money laundering and running a money transmitting business without a license in California. Theresa Lynn Tetley, a cryptocurrency trader who went by the name “Bitcoin Maven,” was sentenced to 12 months and a day in prison, as well as three years supervision after release, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Central District of California.

Tetley was a former stockbroker and real estate investor, who, according to U.S. District Judge Manuel Real, conducted an illegal business and engaged in unlawful monetary transactions involving BTC. Real ordered Tetley to pay $20,000 fine and forfeit proceeds from her illegal trading activity, including 40 BTC, 25 assorted gold bars and cash amounting to $292,264.

The case was considered the first of its kind in the Central of District of California. Authorities said Tetley’s scheme, which had been ongoing since 2016, involved offering crypto to fiat exchange services. Tetley’s operation was not registered as a money service business with the Financial Crimes Enforcement network (FinCEN). She also did not have anti money-laundering mechanisms such as customer due diligence and reporting certain transactions required for these types of businesses.

According to court documents, Tetley advertised on localbitcoins.com and finalized the transactions in person. In total, Tetley exchanged between $6 million and $9.5 million for customers across the country, charging rates higher than institutions that were registered with FinCEN, prosecutors said.

Police started their investigations on her operations in 2016, with an undercover agent posing as a buyer. According to investigators, “Tetley facilitated laundering for one individual who is suspected of receiving [BTC] from unlawful activity, such as sales of drugs on the dark web.”

Tetley pleaded guilty to one count of operating an unlicensed money transmitting business and one count of money laundering, authorities said.

Note: Tokens on the Bitcoin Core (SegWit) chain are referenced as BTC coins; tokens on the Bitcoin Cash ABC chain are referenced as BCH, BCH-ABC or BAB coins.

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