Bitzlato Charged With Money Laundering by the US
The U.S. Justice Department and Treasury Department have taken a major step in their fight against money laundering, charging Bitzlato Ltd. with the crime and arresting its founder, Anatoly Legkodymov, in Miami on Tuesday night. At a press conference in Washington on Wednesday, Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco outlined the coordinated enforcement actions that included the FBI, French authorities and the U.S. Treasury Department to disrupt what she described as “a busy corner of this criminal ecosystem.”
The Treasury’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) formally labelled Bitzlato a “primary money-laundering concern”, one of the most serious sanctions used by the government to fight criminal activity which cuts off a business from the global financial system. The label effectively declares the exchange “an international pariah,” according to Treasury Deputy Secretary Wally Adeyemo.
Bitzlato is a Hong Kong-based platform that offered peer-to-peer services and hosted wallets for criminals buying and selling illegal goods, involving $700 million in direct and indirect transfers over several years according to Justice Department officials. FinCEN said it was also tied to routine transactions with Russian-based Hydra Market, a darknet market targeted by U.S. authorities last year which is now shut down due to this crackdown against Bitzlato – dubbed by Monaco as “the most significant U.S action against a crypto criminal network to date” – and other related activities connected to Russia’s government ransomware actors.
Legkodymov was taken into U.S custody after his arrest in Miami on Tuesday night, moves that will stop Bitzlato from catering to criminals tied to Russia according to Monaco at Wednesday’s press conference in Washington D.C. He was scheduled for arraignment on Wednesday at the U.S District Court for the Southern District of Florida where he faces charges of conducting an unlicensed money-transmitting business according to Yahoo News sources.
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