A Vietnamese man, Minh Quốc Nguyễn, who is accused of laundering up to $3 billion in bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies through his money-laundering service, ChipMixer, is still on the run and remains on the FBI’s most wanted list.
Nguyễn, a cryptographic engineer with an electronic engineering background from Taiwan, was charged last month by the Justice Department (DoJ) with laundering money for ransomware scammers, darknet markets, fraudsters, and state-sponsored actors.
ChipMixer, created by Nguyễn to help criminals bypass know-your-customer and anti-money-laundering measures, is alleged to have been used by the Russian military, state-sponsored North Korean hackers, and a recently-collapsed exchange, possibly referring to the defunct crypto trading platform, FTX.
The largest transfer of funds on the system is alleged to have taken place by North Korean hackers who used the system to launder over $700 million from Axie Infinity’s Ronin Bridge and Harmony’s Horizon Bridge in 2022 and 2020, respectively.
According to authorities, up to 152,000 bitcoin have made their way through ChipMixer, with up to 1,900 bitcoin seized. Charges were filed against Nguyễn in Philadelphia, and an FBI warrant was issued after an extensive international investigation conducted by European and US authorities and Interpol.
The operation, which was headline news in Nguyễn’s native Vietnam, saw around $40 million worth of funds recovered. However, the fugitive remains at large, with the FBI actively searching for him.
The case has raised concerns about the use of cryptocurrency in money laundering and illicit activities. The anonymity of blockchain technology makes it easier for criminals to transfer funds without being traced. Regulators and law enforcement agencies have been grappling with the challenge of monitoring cryptocurrency transactions, which are often conducted across borders and can involve multiple parties.