Bad news if you’re a cryptocurrency investor who relies on the Bitzlato exchange, because here’s what you’ll see if you visit its website today.
The reason? The company’s founder, Anatoly Legkodymov, has been accused by the US Department of Justice of processing more than $700 million in “dirty money” on behalf of criminals.
Legkodymov, a Russian national living in China, was arrested in Miami as part of an international operation involving law enforcement in France and other countries.
“Institutions dealing in cryptocurrency are not above the law and their owners are not beyond our reach,” US Attorney Breon Peace said at a press conference announcing Legkodymov’s arrest. “As alleged, Bitzlato sold itself to criminals as a no-questions-asked cryptocurrency exchange and as a result reaped hundreds of millions of dollars worth of deposits. The defendant is now paying the price for the malign role his company played in the cryptocurrency ecosystem .”
Prosecutors allege that Bitzlato did not implement necessary anti-money laundering safeguards and required only minimal identifying information from its users, making it ideal for drug trafficking and ransomware operators who wanted to cover their tracks.
Authorities say Bitzlato was closely linked to Hydra, a dark web criminal marketplace widely used by Russian-speaking criminals that was seized and shut down last year.
My guess is that Legkodymov regrets his decision to visit Miami.
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