Biden Administration Sanction Another Crypto Exchange for Facilitating Illicit Transactions Along with REvil Operators

Cryptocurrency exchange Chatex is the latest one to be sanctioned by the Biden administration for facilitating financial transactions for hackers.

An analysis of the exchange’s known transactions indicates that over half are “directly traced to illicit or high-risk activities such as darknet markets, high-risk exchanges, and ransomware,” said the US Treasury Department in a statement.

Blockchain analytics firm Chainalysis also analyzed the exchange and found that since first becoming active in Sept. 2018, Chatex has received at least $77.5 million worth of Bitcoin, with more than $17 million coming from illicit sources.

Chatex allegedly has direct ties to another crypto company, Suex OTC, which was cited by the Biden administration in September for facilitating ransomware payments. Chatex used “Suex’s function as a nested exchange to conduct transactions,” according to the Treasury Department.

Egor Petukhovsky, the largest shareholder of Suex, has also found to have interests in Chatex.com, according to blockchain researcher TRM Labs which wrote in a blog post, “Suex and Chatex, while nominally distinct businesses, share extensive corporate and legal relationships” as such this action was really a continuation of the Suex action.

Meanwhile, Tom Robinson, Elliptic co-founder, noted that one of the digital addresses associated with Chatex holds several NFTs, worth around $58k, saying it is the first time he’s seen a sanctioned entity holding NFTs.

“We will not allow activities that legalize criminal assets, including through the use of malware and virtual currencies,” said Finance Minister Janis Reirs in a statement.

Hardening The Critical US Infrastructure

In other news, the US Justice Department charged Ukrainian Yaroslav Vasinskyi, who was arrested in Poland last month, for a ransomware attack against American targets, court filings showed on Monday.

An indictment accused Vasinskyi of breaking into Florida software provider Kaseya over the July 4 weekend and, along with his accomplices, distributed REvil ransomware to as many as 1,500 customers.

Vasinskyi has been charged with installing encryption software developed by the REvil group, which extorted numerous companies for cryptocurrency.

The Treasury Department said Vasinskyi and Russian national Yevgeniy Polyanin face sanctions for their role in ransomware incidents in the US along with Chatex.

The agency further said that over $200 million in ransom payments were paid in Bitcoin (BTC) and Monero (XMR).

On Monday, President Joe Biden said his administration has taken “important steps to harden” critical US infrastructure against cyberattacks.

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