• Four more members of the team of crypto exchange Bitzlato were detained in Europe as part of the international investigation against the platform.
• The operation involved law enforcement and judicial authorities from several European countries, the U.S., and Hong Kong.
• The exchange is suspected of facilitating the laundering of nearly €1 billion ($1.1 billion) worth of criminal proceeds.
European law enforcement authorities have detained four more members of the team of crypto exchange Bitzlato, Europol announced Monday. The operation, which was led by the U.S. and France, also involved Belgium, Cyprus, Portugal, Spain, and the Netherlands.
The Hong Kong-registered coin trading platform is suspected of facilitating the laundering of nearly €1 billion ($1.1 billion) worth of criminal proceeds, the agency emphasized. Last week, the U.S. announced the arrest in Miami of its co-founder and majority owner Anatoly Legkodymov, a Russian national residing in China. Besides Legkodymov, who is believed to be Bitzlato’s main administrator, four more individuals have been detained in Europe so far.
Among them, the CEO, financial director, and marketing director of the exchange were arrested in Spain, and another person was handcuffed in Cyprus, Europol detailed without revealing their identities. Police have conducted eight home searches, half of which were in Spain, at one address in the U.S., two in Portugal, and one in Cyprus.
Wallets with €18 million ($19.5 million) worth of cryptocurrency, vehicles, and jewelry were seized, Europol’s press release noted. The agency added that the investigation is still ongoing, as authorities are currently assessing the evidence collected on site to determine the exact amount of money laundered through the exchange.
In addition, the agency emphasized that the operation is part of the European Union’s efforts to combat the use of cryptocurrencies for criminal activities. Europol is actively cooperating with law enforcement partners across the world to ensure that cryptocurrency-related crimes are properly addressed.