Friday, November 3, 2023

IRS J5 Joint Op Creates 50 Crypto Tax Crime Leads

According to Law360, the Internal Revenue Service and several international partners created well over 50 leads on potential tax crimes and money laundering involving cryptocurrency during a joint action this week, the agency's Criminal Investigation chief said Thursday.

The Joint Chiefs of Global Tax Enforcement, or J5, gathered criminal investigators and financial intelligence units from Canada, Australia, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom and the U.S. for a "cyber challenge," Jim Lee, chief of IRS Criminal Investigation, said during a virtual news briefing. The group's fifth challenge to drive leads on tax crimes focused on data mining and financial reports with the help of data scientists and industry experts from cryptocurrency companies Chainalysis, BlockTrace, and AnChain, according to Lee.

"These Are What I Consider, After A Briefing,
High-Dollar, High-Impact Leads That Have
Cross-Jurisdiction Representation," Lee Said."

We're not fighting for a split decision; we're fighting for the knockout punch."

The Canada Revenue Agency is hosting the challenge in Ottawa. Sharing the same room significantly expedites how quickly information is shared, which creates more leads, Oleg Pobereyko, J5 project lead for the U.S. and the J5's cyber group lead, said during the briefing.

"The main priorities are tax crime," Pobereyko said, but the team also looked into individuals who made significant amounts of crypto potentially from drug trafficking, human trafficking and child exploitation.

A paper summarizing the results of the current challenge is expected to be published next week by the group's financial intelligence units, or FIU. It was the first time that the FIUs participated in a J5 challenge, according to the release.

Cryptocurrency allows investigators to follow suspects' transactions over a longer time frame compared to traditional financial crime investigations, even with old data, according to Ron Willemse, strategic advisor to the Dutch Fiscal Intelligence and Investigation Service.

The J5 helped to track diverted funds and make arrests following an indictment, charging three founders of a cryptocurrency called SafeMoon with a conspiracy to misappropriate millions of dollars,  that the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Eastern District of New York unsealed Wednesday,November 1, 2023.

Over 83% of IRS-CI's investigations that are recommended for prosecution have a primary suspect with a BSA filing, the report said.

Since the J5's inception in 2018 its challenges have helped track down people who make a living out of facilitating "international tax crime," Eric Ferron, director general of the CRA's Criminal Investigations Directorate, said during the briefing. 

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