Washington officials said Wednesday that the Treasury Department and Justice Department have charged Bitzlato Ltd. with money laundering.
Anatoly Legkodymov, the founder of Bitzlato, was taken into custody, preventing Bitzlato from catering to Russian criminals, Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco said at the press conference. It outlined coordinated enforcement actions that involved the Federal Bureau of Investigation, French authorities, and the Treasury Department, disrupting "this criminal ecosystem."
The Treasury's Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) has designated it a "primary money laundering concern," one of the most serious sanctions in its arsenal. Most businesses are cut off from global financial institutions.
According to Wally Adeyemo, Treasury Deputy Secretary, the label makes the exchange feel like a pariah.
Bitzlato was owned by Legkodymov, a Russian citizen living in China at the time of purchase. He will be arraigned on Wednesday in Florida's Southern District Court.
Recently, the exchange hosted wallets of criminals who bought and sold illegal goods, involving $700 million in direct and indirect transfers. FinCEN played a key role in handling illicit transactions for ransomware actors in Russia, including those associated with the Russian government.
Monaco deemed the U.S. crackdown on Bitzlato as the most significant action against crypto criminal networks. A darknet market targeted by U.S. authorities last year, Hydra Market, has also been implicated. A crypto-crime axis was closed in Monaco.