Crypto Platform Bitzlato Charged With Laundering More Than $700 Million of Illicit Money

U.S. authorities designated cryptocurrency exchange Bitzlato Ltd. as a primary money-laundering concern and charged its founder for allegedly facilitating money laundering for criminals, the Wall Street Journal reported. The Treasury Department designated Bitzlato under a section of the USA Patriot Act, a law used to combat money laundering and terrorist financing, for allegedly laundering illicit funds for ransomware actors based in Russia. This type of action, a rarely used so-called death-knell sanction that cuts off the entity from the U.S. financial system, has been used mainly in the past against banks and other financial institutions and in most cases has forced the institution to close. Bitzlato, which is based in Hong Kong but operates globally, allegedly exchanged more than $700 million in cryptocurrency with Hydra Market, a darknet marketplace that was the largest in the world before it was shut down in April 2022, the U.S. Justice Department said. Bitzlato also received more than $15 million of ransomware proceeds, the Justice Department said. Anatoly Legkodymov, the founder and majority owner of Bitzlato, was arrested on Tuesday night in Miami. Mr. Legkodymov, a 40-year-old Russian national who lives in Shenzhen, China, is scheduled for his first court appearance Wednesday afternoon at a federal court in Florida. (Subscription required.) Read more. (Subscription required.)