Today in Crypto: Crypto Industry Expected to Boost Political Spending; US DOJ Seizes $3.6B in Bitcoin Tied to 2016 Hack

DOJ, cryptocurrency, bitcoin

Digital wealth management platform Betterment announced Tuesday (Feb. 8) that it will buy automated crypto portfolio provider Makara.

In the press release, Betterment CEO Sarah Levy said Makara “is to crypto today what we are to traditional investing, since pioneering robo-investing a decade ago.”

Betterment offers customers quick investments in inexpensive but professional equity portfolios, and it says Makara could be the same thing for cryptocurrency.

Meanwhile, the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ), the country’s central bank, has announced that it’s looking into rolling out a central bank digital currency (CBDC), according to a Tuesday report from

In the past, the bank has expressed an opposition to cryptocurrencies, but the RBZ has said it thinks a CBDC would do better than crypto — saying that it is actively looking into adopting such a coin.

Furthermore, the Justice Department seized $3.6 billion in digital currency, which had been stolen during a hack of a cryptocurrency exchange, The Wall Street Journal reported.

Two suspects were arrested for trying to launder the money. Because of the value of the crypto at the time it was seized, this is now reportedly the biggest ever financial seizure from the Justice Department.

The suspects are 34-year-old Ilya Lichtenstein and 31-year-old Heather Morgan, his wife. They were arrested without incident in Manhattan on Tuesday morning, and both of them had promoted themselves as entrepreneurs with “a deep knowledge of tech and love of travel.”

The suspects allegedly conspired to launder around 120,000 bitcoin stolen from Bitfinex’s platform in 2016.

Finally, a Tuesday report from RollCall says the 2022 elections will show whether or not the crypto industry will boost spending on political campaigns.

The industry is over five times its value from late 2020, and there have been additional improvements in the sector, including a tax provision added in November. Though the sector has had exploding wealth, crypto has been under increased scrutiny from Congress and regulators, which has set the stage for greater involvement.

It’s unknown whether political giving will will keep up the pace, but several senators, including Ron Wyden and Kyrsten Sinema, have gotten tens of thousands from the industry, including for trying to amend the infrastructure bill’s cryptocurrency provisions.