Crypto and National Security: Finding Solutions to Illicit Finance Challenges


Crypto and National Security: Finding Solutions to Illicit Finance Challenges

Thursday, October 13 1:00 – 2:00 PM


NSI hosted its next event in our year-long series on crypto, as we continue to host thoughtful conversations around national security risks, coupled with a more holistic exploration of the potential for American leadership in crypto to support U.S. economic and national security policy. This event focused on exploring key policy questions at the intersection of crypto and illicit finance. Key themes and questions we explored at this event included:

  • The aftermath of the Tornado Cash sanctions and what they mean for industry, as well as future sanction determinations by OFAC;
  • The future role of sanctions as a tool for statecraft in an era of digital money;
  • The underlying friction between Bank Secrecy Act compliance and crypto’s ethos of decentralization; and
  • How should the U.S. regulate unhosted wallets?


  • Juan Zarate (moderator) (NSI Advisory Board Member. Global Co-Managing Partner and Chief Strategy Officer, K2 Integrity)
  • Gus Coldebella (NSI Advisory Board Member. Partner, True Ventures)
  • Jessie Liu (NSI Advisory Board. Partner, Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP)
  • Gurvais Grigg (Global Public Sector Chief Technology Officer, Chainalysis)
  • Jai Ramaswamy (Chief Legal Officer, Andreessen Horowitz)


Gus Coldebella joined True Ventures as a general partner in July 2021.  True Ventures is a venture capital firm based in Palo Alto and San Francisco focused on early-stage technology investing.  Prior to his time at True, Gus was general counsel at two crypto-focused businesses: Paradigm, the investment firm, and Circle, the issuer of the USDC stablecoin. Earlier, Gus served as the top lawyer at the U.S. Department of Homeland Security under Secretary Michael Chertoff, where he focused on all major security issues confronting the nation, and supervised the over 1,700 lawyers at DHS and its components. Gus also has decades of experience in private practice, where he counseled clients on government and internal investigations, securities and corporate governance litigation, nation state cyber attacks, and other complex technology-driven risk issues.

Gus graduated from Colgate University, where he currently serves as vice-chair of its Board of Trustees, and from Cornell Law School.


Gurvais C. Grigg is bilingual technology executive and recognized thought leader with over 28 years of public and private sector experience leading complex organizations, investigations, and technical programs. Gurvais retired from the FBI after 23 years and joined Chainalysis as the Global Public Sector Chief Technology Officer (CTO). He is responsible for connecting global governments with the cryptocurrency industry and providing them with the best data and tools to manage risk, address threats, and conduct effective investigations.



Jessie Liu currently serves as a Partner, Government Enforcement and White Collar Crime and Litigation at Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP and Affiliates.

From 2017-20, Ms. Liu served as the Senate-confirmed U.S. attorney for the District of Columbia, leading the nation’s largest U.S. attorney’s office. In this role, she oversaw matters of national and international significance involving corruption, fraud and national security. In particular, she obtained resolutions with several international banks for violating U.S. economic sanctions; an international aerospace company on a nearly $4 billion settlement for violations of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act and U.S. export control laws and regulations; and numerous federal contractors and grantees, including former professional cyclist Lance Armstrong, for violations of the False Claims Act. She also created a Threat Finance Unit focused on deterring, disrupting and prosecuting the use of illicit financial flows supporting criminal activity and terrorism. From 2019-20, she also served as chair of the Attorney General’s Advisory Committee, a small group of U.S. attorneys who advise the attorney general and deputy attorney general on issues affecting the U.S. attorney’s offices, after having previously served as a member of the committee from 2017-19.

Prior to joining the U.S. attorney’s office, Ms. Liu was deputy general counsel for the U.S. Department of Treasury. In this role, she provided legal and policy advice to the secretary of the treasury and other senior department officials, with a focus on national security, law enforcement and international issues, such as economic and trade sanctions, anti-money laundering efforts, and national security reviews of foreign acquisitions of U.S. businesses by the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States. Between 2006-09, Ms. Liu served in various roles within the U.S. Department of Justice, including as deputy assistant attorney general in the Civil Rights Division, counsel to the deputy attorney general for national security issues and deputy chief of staff for the National Security Division. From 2002-06, she was an assistant U.S. attorney in the U.S. Attorney’s Office for District of Columbia.

During her career, Ms. Liu was a partner at two international law firms, handling government investigations and civil litigation.

Ms. Liu has been recognized as a top 25 lateral hire of 2020 by The American Lawyer and as a White Collar Trailblazer by The National Law Journal. In addition, she has been featured in Global Investigations Review’s Top 100 Women in Investigations and named to Chambers USA.


Jai Ramaswamy currently oversees the legal and compliance functions at Andreessen Horowitz as Chief Legal Officer. He was previously the Chief Risk & Compliance Officer at cLabs, working on Celo, a mobile-first platform that makes financial decentralized applications and crypto payments accessible to anyone with a mobile phone. Jai also spent several years in the financial services industry as the Head of Enterprise Risk Management at Capital One and the Global Head of AML Compliance Risk Management at Bank of America/Merrill Lynch. Before joining the private sector, he served for over a decade at the Justice Department, as a white collar crime prosecutor in the Southern District of New York, at headquarters in the Computer Crime and Intellectual Property Section, and later as Chief of the Asset Forfeiture and Money Laundering Section — a role in which he oversaw the prosecutions of BNP Paribas and HSBC for Bank Secrecy Act, Patriot Act and sanctions violations. Jai has an undergraduate degree in government and economics from Harvard University, a law degree from the University of Pennsylvania Law School and a doctorate in social and political science from Cambridge University, U.K.


Juan Zarate is the global co-managing partner and chief strategy officer of K2 Integrity and the cofounder and chair of the boardof Consilient, an innovative new fintech. Mr. Zarate also serves as chairman and senior counselor for the Foundation for Defense of Democracies’ Center on Economic and Financial Power (CEFP), as a senior adviser at the Center for Strategic andInternational Studies (CSIS), as senior national security analyst for NBC News and MSNBC, and as a senior fellow at the Combating Terrorism Center at West Point.

Mr. Zarate served as the deputy assistant to the president and deputy national security adviser for combating terrorism from2005 to 2009, where he was responsible for developing and implementing the U.S. government’s counterterrorism strategy andpolicies related to transnational security threats. Mr. Zarate was the first-ever assistant secretary of the treasury for terroristfinancing and financial crimes, where he led domestic and international efforts to attack terrorist financing, the innovative useof the Treasury Department’s national security–related powers, and the global hunt for Saddam Hussein’s assets. He has earnednumerous awards, including the Treasury Medal.

Mr. Zarate sits on the boards of Northwestern Mutual, Guardian Space Technology Solutions, and the director’s advisory board for the National Counterterrorism Center (NCTC). Since 2014, Mr. Zarate has served as an independent adviser to Coinbase, the largest virtual asset service provider in the United States. Mr. Zarate sat on the board of the Vatican’s Supervisory and Financial Information Authority for over five years; the Boston Dynamics board for over three years; and for seven years, he wasthe U.S. advisor on HSBC’s Financial System Vulnerabilities Committee and remains an advisor to HSBC’s Group RiskCommittee. Mr. Zarate also sat on the board of Cambridge Quantum Computing North America.

Mr. Zarate is the author of Treasury’s War: The Unleashing of a New Era of Financial Warfare (PublicAffairs, 2013); Forging Democracy (University Press of America, 1994); and a variety of articles in the New York Times, Financial Times, Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, Los Angeles Times, Washington Quarterly, and other publications. He is a graduate of both HarvardCollege and Harvard Law School and a former Rotary international fellow (Universidad de Salamanca, Spain). At Harvard College, Zarate was awarded the John P. Reardon Jr. award as the best male student athlete.