US, UK investigate crypto transfers to Russian exchange

American and British government agencies are examining digital currency exchanges for possible links to Russia.

According to Bloomberg’s report, deals valued at more than $20 billion might have been processed through the Russian cryptocurrency exchange, Garantex. Currently, authorities are examining these transactions as part of an international initiative aimed at preventing sanctions evasion, which allegedly funds Russia’s ongoing conflict in Ukraine.

The payments under investigation were carried out on the Moscow cryptocurrency platform utilizing Tether (USDT) as the stablecoin. It is reported that these transfers occurred following the imposition of U.S. and U.K. sanctions on Garantex, which is suspected of aiding financial misconduct and illicit transactions in Russia.

The U.S. government, led by President Joe Biden, has been actively working to restrict cryptocurrency platforms such as Garantex since the beginning of the conflict. It is believed that approximately $20 billion worth of transactions on this platform could potentially violate the sanctions imposed against Russia, making it one of the largest suspected infringements since their implementation.

Using Tether, all actions take place online, each transaction leaves a trace, every asset is recoverable, and criminals may be brought to justice.

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In April 2022, the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) imposed sanctions on Garantex and the darknet marketplace Hydra. According to OFAC, both were based in Russia and had disregarded their responsibilities to prevent money laundering and terrorist financing.

Following the Ukraine conflict’s onset, Western nations imposed severe sanctions on Russia. Regulators now fret over the potential use of cryptocurrencies as a means to bypass these restrictions.

In early March, the U.S. Treasury Department broadened its sanctions by adding 13 companies and two individuals to the list, all of whom have connections to cryptocurrency trading.

Brian Nelson, the American official in charge of countering terrorism and financial intelligence at the U.S. Treasury Department, pointed out that Russia has been finding new ways to pay for its ongoing conflict with Ukraine by using alternative payment methods as a means to bypass U.S. sanctions.

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2024-03-28 18:14