Europol says little-known crypto exchange Bizlato laundered some 1 billion euros in crime-linked funds, after arrests of executive team
Crypto exchange Bizlato exchanged about 1 billion euros ($1.08bn, £880m) in assets linked to criminal activities, Europol has said.
The previously little-known crypto exchange, founded by a Russian national living in China, was charged by US authorities last week with money laundering.
US authorities said at the time that they had taken Bizlato’s founder, Anatoly Legkodymov, into custody in Miami and shut down the Hong Kong-based exchange.
Bizlato’s chief executive, financial director and market director were all arrested in Spain, in addition to another individual in Cyprus and one in the US, Europol said.
“Targeting crucial crime facilitators such as crypto exchanges is becoming a key priority in the battle against cybercrime,” Europol said in a statement.
It said the exchange had carried out illegal transactions in cryptocurrencies including Bitcoin, Dash and Litecoin, as well as US dollars and Russian rubles.
Europol said the firm’s crime-linked assets represented about 46 percent of the 2.1 billion euros received by the platform.
It said house searches had been carried out in Spain, Cyprus and Portugal, while Bizlato digital infrastructure was taken down in France.
Some 18 million euros in cryptocurrency, vehicles and electronics were seized, while 50 million euros of crypto at other exchanges had been frozen, the European police agency said.
The US Treasury’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) last Wednesday labelled Bizlato a “primary money-laundering concern”, a designation that usually entails cutting a business off from the global financial system.
US authorities last week accused Legkodymov of running a “money laundering engine” that had “fuelled a high-tech axis of cryptocrime”.