Europol continues global investigation into crypto exchange Bitzlato.
The European Union Agency for Law Enforcement Cooperation (Europol) seized over $19 million (€ 18 million) worth of crypto from wallets tied to crypto exchange Bitzlato.
According to the Europol press release shared on January 23rd, Europol also “took down the service’s digital infrastructure in France.”
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Europol has estimated that overall, Bitzlato received $2.3 billion (€2.1 billion) in cryptocurrencies, like Bitcoin (BTC), Ethereum (ETH), Tether (USDT), and Dogecoin (DOGE). Europol claims that the majority of the received digital assets were converted into Russian rubles.
Europol’s report revealed that around 46% of assets, worth approximately $1.1 billion (€1 billion), exchanged through Bitzlato were linked to criminal activities. In particular, the cryptanalysis showed that “suspicious transactions” are tied to “entities sanctioned by the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC),” as well as scams, ransomware, money laundering, and child abuse material.
The globally operating Hong Kong-registered cryptocurrency exchange is suspected of facilitating the laundering of large amounts of criminal proceeds and converting them into roubles.
In total, authorities arrested five individuals, including Bitzlato’s main administrator, Bitzlato's CEO, Marketing Director, and Financial Director.
Overall, authorities searched eight houses, seized crypto wallets, electronic equipment, and vehicles. Moreover, Europol froze over 100 accounts in other crypto exchanges.
The European Union law agency noted that its database is growing daily.
At this moment, already over 3 500 Bitcoin addresses and over 1 000 Bitzlato user details showed links with various criminal cases reported in Europol’s systems. Analysis of this data and other related cases is expected to trigger further investigative activities.
Europol works hand in hand with authorities in Cyprus, Belgium, France, the United States, Spain, Netherlands, and Portugal to investigate the crypto exchange Bitzlato.
It is worth noting that recently, US FinCEN named Binance one of the “top three receiving counterparties” of Bitzlato Bitcoin (BTC) transactions.