Bitzlato founder arrested for allegedly processing $700 million in illicit funds

Quick Take

  • The DOJ said it brought an enforcement action on crypto exchange Bitzlato, calling the Hong Kong-registered exchange a “high-tech axis of cryptocrime.”
  • The FBI arrested Bitzlato founder Anatoly Legkodymov on Tuesday night in Miami, officials said during a press conference. 

The founder of cryptocurrency exchange Bitzlato was arrested and charged with processing $700 million in illicit funds, part of the Justice Department's efforts to take down a "money laundering engine" which it says "fueled a high-tech axis of cryptocrime."

Anatoly Legkodymov was arrested in Miami on Tuesday night for allegedly operating a money transmitting business that did not meet anti-money laundering requirements and moved illicit funds. The 40-year-old Russian national, who lives in China, will be arraigned in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida on Wednesday afternoon.

“Overnight, the department worked with key partners here and abroad to disrupt Bitzlato, the China-based money laundering engine that fueled a high-tech axis of cryptocrime," Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco said at a press conference. "Whether you break our laws from China or Europe – or abuse our financial system from a tropical island — you can expect to answer for your crimes inside a United States courtroom.”

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Officials said Bitzlato worked with the Hydra Market, an anonymous online marketplace for narcotics, stolen financial information, fraudulent identification documents and money laundering services. The DOJ claims Hydra users exchanged more than $700 mllion in crypto with Bitzlato until it was shut down last year. 

The Department of the Treasury's Financial Crimes Enforcement Network and French authorities are taking concurrent enforcement actions in the Bitzlato case, according to the press release. 

© 2023 The Block. All Rights Reserved. This article is provided for informational purposes only. It is not offered or intended to be used as legal, tax, investment, financial, or other advice.

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Stephanie is a senior reporter covering policy and regulation. She is focused on legislation, regulatory agencies, lobbying and money in politics. Stephanie is based in Washington, D.C.


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