In Miami (USA), 40-year-old Anatoly Legkodimov, the founder of the Bitzlato cryptocurrency exchange, through which $700 million was laundered, was arrested.
As informs Bloomberg, citing information from the US Department of Justice, the Russian, who is called “Gandalf” in the US, is accused of money laundering through the exchange, which masked the proceeds of drug trafficking and illegal gambling in the amount of more than $ 700 million.
He was arrested on Tuesday. The Hong Kong-based exchange Bitzlato was a “critical financial resource” for Russia’s Hydra darknet marketplace, the largest and most stable such platform trading in illegal goods and services, according to the Justice Department.
The Ministry of Justice said that the cryptocurrency exchange handled illegal funds, including millions of dollars from ransomware. Legkodimov, who lives in China’s Shenzhen and Russia, wrote in an internal chat that, according to the US, Bitzlato users are “known to be scammers.” The Ministry of Justice also stated:
“Hydra buyers funded illegal purchases – hacking services, drugs, stolen financial information – from crypto accounts hosted on Bitzlato, and Hydra sellers sent illegal proceeds to Bitzlato accounts.”
Brooklyn Attorney Breon Pierce, who is leading the case, told the conference:
“By allowing users to open accounts with minimal information, Bitzlato has become a safe haven for criminals.”
Judging by Bitzlato advertisements posted on Russian-language sites, users could open accounts on the exchange without a passport or photo, only using an email address. The exchange allowed you to buy cryptocurrency for cash, at the same time for a fairly small commission.
Data from Chainalysis, a cryptocurrency tracking company, shows that since 2019, Bitzlato has facilitated approximately $1 billion in cryptocurrency money laundering.