Ukrainian Investigators Raid Illegal $4m Crypto Exchange
Ukraine’s new economic intelligence unit has unearthed a “cryptocurrency conversion center” – an illegal crypto exchange – with a “turnover of hundreds of millions of hryvnias.”
The Bureau of Economic Security of Ukraine (BEB), per a report from LB.ua, claimed that its officers had “exposed a large-scale international money-laundering scheme” that made use of crypto.
The BEB was established toward the end of 2022, with a remit to shut down illegal crypto organizations – particularly those linked to suspected money laundering operations.
And the unit stated that a “group of people” had orchestrated the center to “transfer funds illegally” between cities in Ukraine and the European Union. The unit claimed that the center had also illegally exchanged fiat and crypto and allowed customers to buy cryptoassets.
BEB investigators published photographs of the raid. And one image showed an officer standing in a room full of UAH and USD banknotes. A banknote-counting machine is also visible in the same image.
The investigators stated that they had “seized cash assets” worth some $4.15 million, as well as incriminating documents.
The BEB stated that the “main purpose of the center’s activities” was to “launder the proceeds of crime” and “hide” its operations “from financial regulators.”
It added that the center’s customer base included “hundreds of individuals,” in addition to “large companies.”
Crypto Crime on the Rise in Ukraine?
The BEB added that it had worked with its counterparts in the EU to help unearth the exchange. The case has been handed over to prosecutors at the Lviv Regional Prosecutor's Office.
Back in September 2022, a similar exchange, with a turnover of more than $96 million was shut down in the Kyiv Oblast. The investigation also found evidence that the same exchange had arranged the sale of plots of land with a total area of 209 hectares.
Last month, investigators found that a tailor’s shop in the city of Kovel was being used as a front for an illegal crypto mining farm. Police claim that at least 600 crypto-related crimes were reported in the country last year.