US DOJ Issues International Cryptocurrency Enforcement Action

On Wednesday, the United States Department of Justice announced an international cryptocurrency enforcement action.

The Department arrested the founder of Bitzlato – a Chinese crypto exchange involved in servicing financial criminals

  • The DOJ broke the news on Wednesday, alongside representatives from the FBI, OFAC, and the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN). OFAC administers the US sanctions regime, while FinCEN monitors suspicious activity among financial institutions.
  • The department explained that Bitzlato fueled darknet marketplaces and aided in the process of ransomware attacks, amounting to over $700 million in direct and indirect illegal transfers between 2018 and 2022.
  • The exchange became attractive to criminals due to its minimal requirements for user-identifying information, as is typical of most larger exchanges.
  • Ransomware is a cryptocurrency crime is often leveraged for, due to its irreversibility and anonymity.
  • “Coordinated operations like these against Bitzlato are the lynchpins of international success against cybercrime,” the department said.
  • To anyone who still believes that they can hide from the law by using cryptocurrency, this prosecution should put that illusion to rest,” said an accompanying US attorney for the Eastern District of New York.
  • The announcement comes at a time of major turmoil across the crypto industry, particularly surrounding the collapse of former crypto exchange giant FTX.

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