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Crypto custodian Copper reportedly transferred over $4m to entity allegedly tied to Russian arms-dealing network

crypto-custodian-copper-reportedly-transferred-over-4m-to-entity-allegedly-tied-to-russian-arms-dealing-network
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Crypto custodian Copper reportedly transferred over $4m to entity allegedly tied to Russian arms-dealing network

A Guardian and International Consortium of Investigative Journalists investigation reveals a link between Copper and Jonatan Zimenkov, a Russian national sanctioned by the U.S.

A recent investigation co-done by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) and the Guardian reveals that the British crypto custodian Copper transferred crypto worth more than $4.2 million to a wallet linked to a member of an alleged Russian arms-dealing network. According to the report, the U.K.-headquartered firm transferred crypto to Jonatan Zimenkov, an Israeli-born sanctioned Russian national.

Crypto custodian Copper reportedly transferred over $4m to entity allegedly tied to Russian arms-dealing network - 1
Zimenkov-related crypto transcations | Source: ICIJ

The analysis revealed a connection between Copper and Zimenkov, who was sanctioned by the U.S. in February 2023 for alleged involvement in “multiple deals for Russian cybersecurity and helicopter sales abroad and have engaged directly with Rosoboroneksport’s potential clients to enable sales of Russian defense materiel,” according to the U.S. Department of the Treasury.

The analysis notes that Jonatan Zimenkov is a member of the Zimenkov network, an arms-dealing and sanctions-evasion network led by his father, Igor Zimenkov. According to ICIJ, Copper “transferred millions of dollars” worth of crypto to a wallet belonging to Zimenkov in May 2021. However, the report pointed out that Zimenkov was sanctioned only “19 months later.”

“There is no suggestion that Copper has breached any sanctions or any other regulations in place at the time of the transaction.”

ICIJ

The investigation also highlighted that Zimenkov was not a registered client of Copper, implying that he did not need to disclose his identity to the cryptocurrency custodian. However, financial institutions in the UK have the discretion to file a suspicious activity report if transactions raise concerns, although it remains uncertain whether Copper took such action in this instance. As of press time, Copper made no public statements on the matter.

The latest revelations follow a previous report by the Guardian, which disclosed that a sanctioned Russian banker, Mikhail Klyukin, had sold $19 million worth of shares in Copper. The sale was reportedly orchestrated by Copper to address concerns after Klyukin, who controlled over 2% of the company, was sanctioned by the U.S. in March 2022.

Founded in 2018 by Dmitry Tokarev, Copper provides services to companies looking to invest in, trade, or use crypto. In March 2022, Tokarev issued a public statement on Copper’s website, condemning the Kremlin’s military offensive against Ukraine, adding that “the Russian government does not speak for every Russian. They do not even speak for the majority of them.”