- Europol has released more details on last week’s closure of Bitzlato
- U.S. authorities were mocked for their treatment of the little known site
- The site attracted more than €2.1 billion in bitcoin transactions, 46% of which were from criminal activities
Europol has released more information on Bitzlato, the cryptocurrency exchange that was shuttered last week by U.S. authorities. This includes the fact that the platform received some €2.1 billion ($2.2 billion) in bitcoin throughout its lifetime, 46% of which was from known illegal operations. It also added that five individuals arrested so far, the lead administrator and CEO arrested, and over 100 cryptocurrency exchange accounts frozen. The Department of Justice (DoJ) was mocked over its announcement of a “major international cryptocurrency enforcement action” on an exchange that no one had heard of, but it turns out this wasn’t the smallest fish in the pond after all.
€1 Billion in Illegal Deposits
The DoJ didn’t cover itself in glory in the crypto space when it went in all guns blazing last week to announce it had closed an exchange no one had ever heard of, but it turns out that there was a reason for this – Bitzlato was a Russian exchange typically frequented by criminals wanting to launder their bitcoin.
The new details released by Interpol show that Bitzlato may have been a small fish in the wider crypto space, but, in the words of one commentator, it wasn’t nothing. According to the agency, roughly €1 billion of the €2.1 billion that flowed through its gates was the proceeds of crime, including 1.5 million Bitcoin transactions between dar market Hydrabay, which was taken down in April last year.
Arrests in Three Countries
The operation itself was on as large a scale as last week’s presentation made out. Europol and U.S. agencies worked together in the early stages to help link data to various criminal cases within and outside the EU. On the day of the operation, Europol deployed 13 experts to assist in the field and supported the deployment of national investigators in other participating countries. This led to arrests in three countries, seizures of cryptocurrency wallets, property and vehicles and the shut down of the site.
So far, over 3,500 bitcoin addresses and over 1,000 Bitzlato user details have been linked to various criminal cases reported in Europol’s systems, with further investigative activities expected to be triggered by ongoing analysis.