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Former IRS Criminal Investigations Chief Joins Chainalysis as Global Head of Capacity Building

Hassan Shittu
Last updated: | 3 min read
Former IRS Criminal Investigations Chief Joins Chainalysis as Global Head of Capacity Building

Jim Lee, a 29-year veteran of the United States government with a significant tenure as the chief of the Internal Revenue Service’s (IRS) Criminal Investigations team, has transitioned to a new role at cryptocurrency analytics firm Chainalysis.

In an announcement on April 8, Chainalysis revealed that Lee has joined the company as its global head of capacity building. In this capacity, he will focus on collaborating with international agencies to develop effective solutions against cryptocurrency-based crime.

Former IRS Chief Joins Chainalysis to Combat Crypto Crime

In a statement, the former IRS Chief highlighted the evolving landscape of financial crime, emphasizing that virtually all forms of illegal activities are financially motivated. He noted the significant role of technological advancements in shaping criminal tactics, including the adoption of cryptocurrency by nefarious actors.

Having collaborated with Chainalysis during his tenure at the IRS, Lee mentioned specific cases where the firm’s analytics tools contributed to law enforcement efforts, such as the takedown of darknet markets, combating terrorism financing, and addressing child exploitation networks.

Expressing optimism about the potential of cryptocurrency to enhance financial inclusion and transparency, he also acknowledged the challenges posed by its misuse for criminal purposes. He emphasized the importance of equipping law enforcement agencies with advanced tools and data to combat illicit activities within the crypto ecosystem.

In a recent LinkedIn post in March, Lee announced his departure from the IRS, stating, “It’s time to move on and give others a chance to lead.” Guy Ficco succeeded Lee as the head of the team on April 1, according to the agency’s announcement in March.

According to Lee, the decision to join Chainalysis was motivated by the company’s dedication to promoting safety and integrity in the crypto space. With a track record of supporting law enforcement and promoting public awareness of criminal activities, Chainalysis stands out as a leading force in combating crypto-related crime.

He attributed his decision to join Chainalysis to the company’s proactive efforts in promoting the safety of cryptocurrencies, particularly in collaboration with U.S. authorities on criminal cases involving ransomware attacks and tax reporting.

IRS Develops Crypto Investigation Strategies to Combat Tax Evasion


The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) is stepping up its efforts to combat tax evasion and illegal activities in the cryptocurrency space. According to reports from June 2023, the IRS has created a comprehensive set of slides to guide its agents in investigating crypto users suspected of wrongdoing. The focus is on detecting potential tax evasion and illicit activities within the crypto market.

The slides highlight several key methods employed in these investigations. These include conducting interviews, performing open-source searches, and utilizing electronic surveillance as initial steps. Additionally, the presentation emphasizes the effectiveness of serving Grand Jury Subpoenas to tech giants like Apple, Google, and Microsoft. These subpoenas aim to access a user’s complete application download history, with a specific focus on apps facilitating bitcoin transactions.

Furthermore, the slides outline the use of Grand Jury Subpoenas to gather information from traditional financial institutions such as banks, credit card companies, and PayPal. This data collection strategy aims to uncover crypto-related transactions and financial activities. Additionally, vendors that accept bitcoin, including platforms like Amazon Payments, are considered potential sources of information through similar legal avenues.

In terms of tracing bitcoin transactions, the presentation recommends leveraging services like Chainalysis, a blockchain analysis company capable of mapping wallets and identifying known clusters on the Bitcoin network. This includes wallets associated with crypto exchanges and major players in the industry.

The IRS’s proactive approach to crypto investigations aligns with broader efforts to establish clear guidelines and regulations in the crypto space. These initiatives aim to address legal uncertainties surrounding token ownership, trading, and business activities in the United States. The IRS’s focus on enforcing tax compliance within the evolving crypto landscape reflects the government’s commitment to tackling financial crimes and ensuring transparency in digital asset transactions.