The Polish media have made a tenuous link between the arrest of two companies on suspicion of money laundering, and the cryptocurrency exchange Bitfinex.
The news comes two months after it Polish Central Bank had funded a social media campaign against crypto. But is this latest scandal another smear campaign, or a legitimate claim?that
Verifying a Network of Information
As reported on Polish news source TVP info, on April 6, 2018, the Polish authorities seized 1.27 billion Polish zlotys ($371 million) from two companies suspected of money laundering for Colombian drug cartels. Some media outlets have linked these companies to cryptocurrency exchange Bitfinex.
However, a representative from Bitfinex contacted Finance Magnates with the following statement:
“Bitfinex can confirm that it is aware of the current allegations that have been reported by Polish media over the past several hours. Bitfinex believes that these allegations are untrue and Bitfinex customers and operations are unaffected by false rumors. Bitfinex is proud to be the world’s leading crypto exchange, and in this capacity works tirelessly to remain in strict compliance with authorities and regulators worldwide.”
The Polish media, however, report that the money seized was indeed linked to Bitfinex through a network of companies involved in the Colombian drug trade. However, the source itself appears to admit that it is not verified:
“Unofficial information shows that it is about Bitfinex. The Polish prosecutor’s office has not raised any charges yet, and due to the international dimension of the case, the Central Investigation Office cooperates with Europol and Interpol.”
These details were brought to the attention of Interpol by an incident far away in the Democratic Republic of the Congo when one of the two accused companies impersonated a building contractor to intercept a 400,000-euro bill.
The two companies accused are alleged to exist solely to launder money for international criminal activity, particularly cocaine smuggling. The report states that these companies are used for large-scale financial operations involving cocaine, and hide by exchanging cash for cryptocurrencies.
The Prosecutor General, Zbigniew Ziobro, commented:
“The money probably comes from international drug trafficking, as well as large-scale fraud. It was deposited at a branch of one of the banks in the accounts of two companies registered in Poland.”
The bank in question, a “small co-operative bank in Lodz,” is the same bank that Bitfinex registered in November 2017 when they began to offer Euro-to-BTC trading pairs in the country.