Crypto Exchange Bitzlato Converted Over $1B in Crime-Linked Assets, Europol Says
Bitzlato, the little-known crypto exchange that last week was charged by the U.S. with money laundering, exchanged around 1 billion euros ($1.08 billion) in assets linked to criminal activities, European Union police agency Europol said in a statement Monday.
"Targeting crucial crime facilitators such as crypto exchanges is becoming a key priority in the battle against cybercrime," Europol said, citing transactions in multiple crypto currencies including bitcoin (BTC), Dash and Litecoin, as well as U.S. dollars and Russian rubles.
The company's CEO, financial director and market director were all arrested in Spain, as well as one additional individual in Cyprus and one in the U.S., Europol said, after the U.S. Department of Justice announced it had shut down the Hong Kong platform and taken founder Anatoly Legkodymov into custody in Miami.
The statement from Europol, the EU agency that coordinates activities among national law enforcement authorities within the bloc, details house searches in Spain, Cyprus and Portugal; the takedown of digital infrastructure in France; and seizures of 18 million euros ($19.5 million) in cryptocurrency, vehicles and electronics, plus the freezing of 50 million euros ($54.3 million) of crypto at other exchanges.
On Jan. 18, the U.S. Treasury's Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) formally labeled the company a “primary money-laundering concern,” a serious designation which usually cuts off a business off from the global financial system.
The crime-linked assets represented about 46% of the 2.1 billion euros ($2.3 billion) received by the platform, Europol said.