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SirWin
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US, UK investigate crypto transfers to Russian exchange

us-uk-crypto-transfers-russia
Edited by
News
US, UK investigate crypto transfers to Russian exchange

U.S. and U.K. authorities are checking cryptocurrency transactions for potential connections with Russia.

Per Bloomberg, transactions worth over $20 billion may have gone through the Russian crypto exchange Garantex. Authorities are now reviewing the deals as part of the allies’ efforts to combat sanctions evasion that is supporting Russia’s war in Ukraine.

The payments under scrutiny were processed through the Moscow cryptocurrency exchange using the Tether (USDT) stablecoin. Sources say the transfers came after Garantex was hit with U.S. and U.K. sanctions for allegedly facilitating financial crimes and illegal transactions in Russia.

U.S. President Joe Biden’s administration has been trying to crack down on cryptocurrency exchanges like Garantex since the early days of the war. Sources said that the $20 billion in transactions would represent one of the most significant breaches of sanctions imposed on Russia since they were introduced.

“With Tether, every action is online, every transaction is traceable, every asset can be seized, and every criminal can be caught.”

Tether Holdings comment

The Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) sanctioned Garantex in April 2022 at the same time as the darknet marketplace Hydra, calling Russia a haven for cybercriminals. OFAC said that the exchange, operated from the Federation Tower in Moscow City, deliberately ignores obligations to combat money laundering and the financing of terrorism.

After the outbreak of the conflict in Ukraine, western countries initiated a strict sanctions regime against Russia, and regulators are seriously concerned about the use of cryptocurrencies to circumvent sanctions.

As a result, the U.S. Treasury Department expanded its sanctions list earlier in March to include 13 companies and two individuals associated with cryptocurrency trading.

Brian Nelson, the U.S. Treasury Undersecretary for Counterterrorism and Financial Intelligence, noted that Russia is increasingly turning to alternative payment mechanisms to circumvent U.S. sanctions and continue to finance the war against Ukraine.