The U.S. Financial Crimes Enforcement Network designated a Moscow-based cryptocurrency exchange as a “primary money laundering concern” Wednesday, marking the bureau’s first use of an expanded authority adopted in 2021 to combat Russian illicit finance.
FinCEN’s designation bars financial institutions from handling funds for Bitzlato Limited, which U.S. officials suspect processed transactions tied to ransomware attacks conducted from within Russia. Federal prosecutors in the Eastern District of New York simultaneously charged Anatoly Legkodymov, Bitzlato’s founder and majority owner, with illegal money transmission.
Deputy Treasury Secretary Wally Adeyemo told reporters Wednesday that Bitzlato received almost $500 million of illicitly generated cryptocurrency from 2019 to 2021, and claimed that nearly half of the exchange’s transactions during those years “involved Russian illicit finance or otherwise risky sources.”
FinCEN’s designation would render Bitzlato an “international pariah,” Adeyemo said.
The bureau made the designation pursuant to section 9714(a) of the Combating Russian Money Laundering Act, which Congress adopted in January 2021 as part of a broader package of anti-money laundering reforms in that year’s defense-spending bill.
|Topics :||Anti-money laundering|
|Source:||U.S.: FinCEN , Russia|
|Document Date:||January 18, 2023|