Federal authorities on Wednesday arrested the founder of Bitzlato, a cryptocurrency exchange they said has been a financial haven for Russia-aligned criminals engaged in ransomware and illicit drug sales on the dark web.
Anatoly Legkodymov, a 40-year-old Russian national residing in Shenzhen, China, was arrested on Wednesday in Miami, US prosecutors said. The prosecutors alleged that on Legkodymov’s watch, Bitzlato processed roughly $4.58 billion worth of cryptocurrency transactions and that a “substantial portion of those transactions constitute the proceeds of crime, as well as funds intended for use in criminal transactions.” Bitzlato is known as a virtual asset service provider (VASP).
Ransomware and cybercrime bazaars—no questions asked
The US Justice Department took action in conjunction with the US Treasury Department’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN), which enforces laws prohibiting domestic and international money laundering, terrorist financing, and other financial crimes. A centerpiece of the FinCEN agenda is enforcing sanctions against Russian entities, including ransomware groups affiliated with that country.