InfoSec Seminar: Explaining Prosecution Outcomes for Cryptocurrency-based Financial Crimes

Speaker: Arianna Trozze

Date/Time: 26-Nov-2020, 16:00 UTC

Venue: Virtual Seminar



Certain characteristics of Bitcoin make its use attractive to financial criminals; however, while enforcement efforts have begun—primarily in the U.S.—they remain underdeveloped. This paper examines factors associated with successful U.S.-based cryptocurrency financial crime prosecutions. We studied the 37 resolved cryptocurrency-based financial crime cases in the U.S. to date, exploring the impact of offence, defendant, and evidence characteristics on the mode of disposition and penalties. We found that the number of charges, cryptocurrency used, number of defendants, and nature of defendants were associated with the mode of disposition for all cases. Witness and forensic evidence were associated with the mode of disposition for criminal cases. The number of charges was associated with the means of disposition of civil cases. The presence of individual defendants only (rather than a corporate defendant or combination thereof) made a case less likely to be resolved by summary or default judgment. This study is the first to examine variables contributing to financial crime prosecution outcomes and has implications for prosecutorial decision making and the prevention and detection of financial crimes involving cryptocurrencies. 



I am a PhD student at UCL’s CDT in cybersecurity, focusing on detecting and prosecuting financial crimes involving cryptocurrencies. My academic and research experience has primarily centred on international policy and human geography, with a particular emphasis on ICT policy. I completed my master’s thesis at the University of Oxford in 2015 on deliberative democracy and international ICT policy and my undergraduate thesis at Franklin University Switzerland in 2014 on ICT policies across Latin America. 


During and following my master’s degree, I worked for the United Nations International Telecommunications Union in Geneva, focusing on digital inclusion initiatives and policies. After working in international policy for a year, I found myself more interested in the enforcement arena and joined an international litigation firm. There I worked initially as a legal analyst, assisting with government enforcement defence and international judgment enforcement matters. I later joined the company’s corporate strategy department as the product manager for internal investigations and monitorships and asset forfeiture defence.

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