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US: One-half of couple accused of money laundering seeks court’s permission to access digital asset wallets

After months of standing trial on money laundering charges with her husband, Heather Morgan has asked the court to grant her access to her digital wallets containing virtual assets. Morgan said the purpose of her request is to calculate her tax liabilities, including that of her spouse.

The couple is standing trial over charges of laundering nearly $5 billion in stolen BTC from Bitfinex. Morgan’s lawyer, Eugene Gorokhov, made the filing on September 12 for the courts to shed light on the peculiar request from Morgan.

“To determine her tax liability, Ms. Morgan must access specific cryptocurrency wallets in order to calculate income from the sales of cryptocurrency assets. Undersigned counsel has discussed this issue with the government, and the government understands Ms. Morgan’s need to access this information,” the filing reads.

To strengthen the argument, Gorokhov claims that the pretrial release conditions do not preclude Morgan from accessing the wallets but express worry that such a move may be construed as an attempt to engage in digital assets. Morgan and her co-defendant have been banned from trading virtual assets while they’re awaiting trial as part of pretrial release conditions.

“Therefore, Ms. Morgan respectfully requests this court to clarify that she is permitted to access her cryptocurrency wallets and exchange accounts for the limited purposes of calculating her tax liability,” read the motion.

Morgan, also known as Razzlekhan, was arrested with Ilya Lichtenstein in February by law enforcement in connection with their alleged role in laundering 120,000 BTC associated with the Bitfinex 2016 hack.

A whirlwind of media attention

Since their arrest, Morgan and Lichtenstein have shot to notoriety with several publications referring to them as Bonnie and Clyde, after the bank-robbing couple that terrorized United States banks in the 1920s. Netflix hopped on the buzz to announce the making of a docuseries about Morgan and Lichtenstein’s attempts to launder the stolen BTC, to be directed by Chris Smith, the creator of “Tiger King” and “The Greatest Party That Never Happened.”

Despite the buzz around the case, Morgan maintained a six-month radio silence which she recently broke to clear speculation over her involvement with specific Non-Fungible Token projects.

“I am not involved in any crypto project,” she said. “Any crypto or NFT project bearing my name or likeness is a scam that I do not endorse.”

The couple is currently released on bail. If convicted, they face up to 25 years in jail in connection with their alleged role in the heist.

Follow CoinGeek’s Crypto Crime Cartel series, which delves into the stream of groups from BitMEX to BinanceBitcoin.comBlockstreamShapeShiftCoinbaseRipple,
EthereumFTX and Tether—who have co-opted the digital asset revolution and turned the industry into a minefield for naïve (and even experienced) players in the market.

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