Assistant U. S. Attorneys Oleksandra Johnson (619) 546-9769) and Aaron P. Arnzen (619) 546-8384
NEWS RELEASE SUMMARY— December 20, 2021
SAN DIEGO– The United States did something about it in federal court today to secure and eventually return more than $154 million in funds that were apparently taken from a subsidiary of Tokyo- based Sony Group Corporation and after that taken by police throughout the FBI’s examination of the theft.
The United States submitted a civil forfeit problem in the Southern District of California to secure Sony’s interest in the home, which a staff member apparently embezzled in May 2021 and transformed to more than 3,879 Bitcoins valued today at more than $180 million. Those funds were taken by police on December 1, 2021, based upon the FBI’s examination.
According to the federal government’s problem, Rei Ishii, a staff member ofSony Life Insurance Company Ltd (“Sony Life”) in Tokyo, apparently diverted the $154 million when the business tried to move funds in between its monetary accounts. Ishii apparently did this by falsifying deal directions, which triggered the funds to be moved to an account that Ishii managed at a bank in La Jolla,California Ishii then rapidly transformed the funds to Bitcoin cryptocurrency, the problem stated.
Based on proof revealed throughout the FBI’s examination, a seizure warrant was licensed in June 2021 by a U.S. Magistrate Judge in the Southern District ofCalifornia As declared in the supporting affidavit, police had the ability to trace Bitcoin transfers and recognize that roughly 3,879.16 Bitcoins, representing the earnings of the funds taken from a subsidiary of Sony Life, had actually been moved to a particular Bitcoin address and after that to an offline cryptocurrency cold wallet.
The FBI, with substantial support from Sony and Citibank, continued to examine in cooperation with Japan’s National Police Agency, the Tokyo Metropolitan Police Department, Tokyo District Public Prosecutors Office, and JPEC (Japan Prosecutors system on Emerging Crimes). As an outcome of this collaborated effort, detectives acquired the “private key”– the rough equivalent of a password– required to access the Bitcoin address. All the Bitcoins traceable to the theft have actually been recuperated and totally maintained. Ishii has actually been criminally charged in Japan.
“It is our intent to return the stolen money to the victim of this audacious theft, and today’s action helps us do that,” stated Acting U.S.Attorney Randy Grossman “This case is an example of amazing work by FBI agents and Japanese law enforcement, who teamed up to track this virtual cash. Criminals should take note: You cannot rely on cyptocurrency to hide your ill-gotten gains from law enforcement. The United States coordinates extensively with its international partners to forestall crime and retrieve stolen funds.” Grossman thanked the prosecution group, the FBI and Japanese authorities for their outstanding deal with this case.
“The FBI was able to recover these stolen funds for two very important reasons,” stated FBI Special Agent inCharge Suzanne Turner “First, Sony and Citibank immediately contacted and cooperated with law enforcement as soon as the theft was detected, and the FBI worked in partnership with both to locate the funds. Second, the FBI’s footprint internationally through our Legal Attaché offices and the pre-existing relationships we have established in foreign countries – in this instance with Japan – enabled law enforcement to coordinate and identify the subject. The FBI’s technical expertise was able to trace the money to the subject’s crypto wallet and seize those funds.”
The Major Frauds and Public Corruption Section and Asset Recovery Section of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of California is managing the procedures, with substantial support from the Department of Justice Criminal Division’s Money Laundering and Asset Recovery Section and Computer Crime andIntellectual Property Section The Justice Department’s Office of International Affairs offered investigative support. The FBI continues to examine the supposed criminal offense.
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