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US and UK Investigate $20 Billion Cryptocurrency Transactions Linked to Russian Exchange

Jonathan Wong

Jonathan Wong

26 March 2024

US and UK authorities are collaborating on an investigation into cryptocurrency transactions totaling over $20 billion, channeled through a Russian-based virtual exchange. The probe aims to curb sanctions evasion, particularly amidst geopolitical tensions such as Vladimir Putin's actions in Ukraine. Transactions under scrutiny involve the use of Tether, a dollar-pegged cryptocurrency, via the Moscow-based exchange Garantex, which was previously sanctioned by both countries.

This joint effort highlights the ongoing challenge for Western nations in disrupting Russia's financial channels despite imposing comprehensive sanctions. Despite efforts to restrict financial flows, Russia has leveraged various strategies, including cryptocurrency transactions, to circumvent sanctions and sustain its economy amidst geopolitical pressure.

The investigation signifies heightened scrutiny on cryptocurrency exchanges like Garantex, with the $20 billion transactions being deemed among the most severe violations of sanctions against Russia. While cautioning about the complexity of cryptocurrency transactions, authorities are keen to ensure thorough inquiries and hold accountable any entities involved in sanctions evasion.

Tether Holdings, central to these transactions, has emphasized its cooperation with law enforcement and commitment to combat illicit activities. Despite its stability and widespread use, Tether remains a favored tool among criminals, implicated in various illegal activities, prompting regulatory scrutiny and efforts to enhance transparency and accountability within the cryptocurrency ecosystem.