As part of the enforcement measures taken against the cryptocurrency company Bitzlato, the European Union Agency for Law Enforcement Cooperation, often known as Europol, has stated that authorities have taken custody of bitcoin wallets holding more than $19 million worth of cryptocurrencies.
Europol said on January 23 that around 46% of the assets that were transferred via Bitzlato were connected to illegal activity. At the time of publishing, this equated to 1 billion euros, which is equivalent to $1.09 billion USD.
According to the findings of the investigation conducted by the government agency, Bitzlato was in possession of more than 2.1 billion euro worth of cryptocurrencies, such as Bitcoin (BTC), Dash (DASH), and Dogecoin (DOGE), the majority of which were changed into Russian rubles.
According to Europol, despite the fact that converting crypto assets into fiat currency is not against the law, investigations into the cybercriminal operators suggested that huge amounts of illicit assets were passing via the site. “The bulk of suspect transactions are tied to companies that have been sanctioned by the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC). Other questionable transactions are linked to cyber scams, money laundering, malware, and content that depicts child abuse.”
The United States authorities reported on January 18 that they had detained Anatoly Legkodymov, the creator of Bitzlato, in the state of Florida as part of their efforts by a cryptocurrency-focused enforcement team.
Europol added that the operation, which involved support from agencies in Belgium, Cyprus, Portugal, Spain, and the Netherlands, resulted in the arrest of four other individuals linked to the cryptocurrency exchange. One of these individuals was arrested in Cyprus, and the other three were arrested in Spain.
In addition to the arrests, Europol claimed that investigators had confiscated wallets worth around 18 million euros, which is equivalent to approximately $19.5 million, and blocked more than 100 accounts at other cryptocurrency exchanges, which controlled a total of 50 million euros.
The servers of Bitzlato were supposedly a “major money laundering concern” that was tied to Russian criminal financing, and the authorities in the United States of America were engaged in the attempts to confiscate them.
Following his arrest on January 18, Legkodymov was allegedly brought before the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida to have his arraignment.
There is a lack of clarity on the potential charges, if any, that his partners at Bitzlato may face in Europe.