- Bitzlato will relocate to Russia and reopen, says its co-founder
- Anton Shkurenko on Wednesday refuted the allegations of its involvement in criminal activity
- Bitzlato’s co-founder, Anatoly Legkodymov, remains in U.S. custody
Bitzlato, the crypto exchange whose closure by U.S. authorities caused so much mirth last month, will reopen, its co-founder has vowed. Anton Shkurenko, interviewed this week, promised to get the Hong Kong-based exchange up and running and serving Russian customers again, and denied accusations that the company has been engaged in tax evasion and claiming that it has complied with all European regulations.
Co-founder Remains in Custody
Bitzlato was shut down last month as part of a global law enforcement operation, which U.S. authorities referred to as a significant setback for crypto crime. The platform was accused of processing $700 million in illegal funds from criminal organizations, including the darknet marketplace Hydra and the Russian crypto Ponzi scheme Finiko.
The service was disrupted with the help of French authorities who took over its servers and brought down its website, while its co-founder, Anatoly Legkodymov, a Russian resident in China, was arrested in Miami. Several other team members were taken into custody in Europe at the same time.
French authorities were successful in confiscating Bitzlato’s hot wallet, which held approximately 35% of user funds in various cryptocurrencies at the time. The exact amount was not disclosed, and reports claiming that the total surpassed $1 billion were refuted by Shkurenko, who also stated in the interview that the company is currently conducting an audit of its losses, with a plan to move to Russia and restart operations under Russian jurisdiction.
Shkurenko Denies Any Laws Were Broken
With regard to the repayment of user funds, Shkurenko reassured customers that they will be able to withdraw 50% of the bitcoin in their Bitzlato wallets on the day the platform is relaunched. The release of holdings in alternative cryptocurrencies will be done gradually, though a schedule was not specified.
Shkurenko also rejected claims that the company had evaded paying taxes and promised that it had always followed KYC and AML rules under European law. Additionally, he said, the company cooperated with law enforcement to prevent illegal activities. He finished the interview by expressing the hope that the charges will soon be dismissed and those who were taken into custody will be released.