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Couple Arrested in Connection with Cryptocurrency Hack 

FILE PHOTO: Representations of Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies on a screen showing binary codes are seen through a magnifying glass in this illustration picture taken Sept. 27, 2021.

A New York husband and wife were arrested Tuesday and charged with conspiracy to launder 119,754 bitcoins that were stolen in 2016.

The stolen bitcoins, currently worth over $4.5 billion, were obtained during a hack of the cryptocurrency exchange Bitfinex. At the time of the theft, the cryptocurrency was worth $71 million.

Ilya Lichtenstein, 34, and his wife, Heather Morgan, 31, both of Manhattan, are set to appear in federal court Tuesday afternoon.

Authorities say they seized $3.6 billion from the hack, what the Justice Department said was its largest financial seizure.

"Today's arrests, and the department's largest financial seizure ever, show that cryptocurrency is not a safe haven for criminals," Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco said in a statement. "In a futile effort to maintain digital anonymity, the defendants laundered stolen funds through a labyrinth of cryptocurrency transactions. Thanks to the meticulous work of law enforcement, the department once again showed how it can and will follow the money, no matter what form it takes."

According to the Justice Department, conspiracy to commit money laundering carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison, and conspiracy to defraud the United States carries a maximum sentence of five years.