Anatoly Legkodimov is accused of money laundering with criminal activities.
US authorities announced on Wednesday, January 18, the arrest of a Russian, the founder of the Hong Kong-based Bitzlato cryptocurrency platform, accused of laundering $700 million from criminal activities. Anatoli Legkodimov, a 40-year-old Russian national living in China, was arrested overnight between Tuesday, January 17 and Wednesday, January 18 in Miami, Florida, as part of an international operation involving French agents. He will be presented before a federal judge on the day of his indictment for “unauthorized money transfer activity“. In addition to the French authorities, “This extraordinary international judicial operation also mobilized the police forces of Portugal, Spain, Cyprus and the United States”, in turn indicated the national gendarmerie in a press release. 6 people were arrested.
“Answer for your actions in a US court”
These arrests are part of a preliminary investigation carried out by the National Jurisdiction for the Fight against Organized Crime (JUNALCO) since September 6, 2022 for participation in a criminal association, money laundering in an organized gang, complicity in gang extortion, complicity in attacks on automated data processing systems. This operation follows an investigation carried out since December 2022 by the Operations Division of the Gendarmerie Command in Cyberspace (ComCyberGend). A total of 250 agents worldwide participated in this operation, the statement said.
“Today, the Ministry of Justice deals a blow to the cryptocriminal ecosystem“and”reacting to the crisis of confidence in the cryptocurrency markets“, Assistant US Attorney Lisa Monaco commented during a press conference. “Whether you break the law in China or Europe or run our financial system from a tropical island, you can expect to be held accountable for your actions in an American court.She added, referring to the arrest in the Bahamas of former FTX cryptocurrency exchange boss Sam Bankman-Fried.
In this new case, US court accuses Anatoli Legkodimov of adopting a policy “minimum identificationfor its customers who boast of not askingno selfie, no passport“. As a result, Bitzlato became “a haven for criminal means“, according to the Ministry of Justice.
Transactions of Hydra Market
The company is accused of conducting most of its transactions with “Hydra market“, the main sales platform for “the dark web» worldwide until it was dismantled in April during a joint operation by the German and American authorities.
Hydra Market has been operating in the Russian language since 2015, selling both drugs and fake documents on this dark side of the Internet. According to the ministry, Hydra users have traded more than $700 million in cryptocurrency through Bitzlato. But according to the complaint, Anatoli Legkodimov knew that his clients were hiding under false identities to carry out illegal activities. In an internal message, he acknowledged that they were “villains“.
The service offered by the Bitzlato company was taken out of service on January 18, 2023. The domain name was also seized. Crypto assets were seized for a global equivalent of more than fifteen million euros.
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