The founder of the cryptocurrency exchange Bitzlato has pleaded not guilty in a money laundering case in the United States. Anatoly Legkodymov was arrested in Miami, in mid-January, for his role in running the trading platform that allegedly processed over $700 million in illegal funds.
Bitzlato founder Legkodymov appears in US court
Anatoly Legkodymov, one of the founders and majority owner of the Russian-linked crypto exchange Bitzlato, has made his first appearance in New York federal court on Tuesday, the Law360 portal reported. He has been ordered held without bail over allegations he laundered millions in criminal proceeds through the platform, which he has denied.
The Russian citizen, residing in China, was arrested by the FBI in Miami on January 17 and charged with unlicensed money transmission. The defendants were also accused of running the Hong Kong-registered exchange that failed to implement anti-money laundering safeguards and processed more than $700 million in illegal funds.
The money is allegedly linked to various criminal activities and actors, including ransomware groups and drug traffickers. Among them, once the largest darknet market Hydra, also with Russian roots, which was shut down in April when its servers were seized in Germany, as well as Russia’s largest crypto pyramid scheme, Finiko.
In late January, four more members of Bitzlato’s team, including three managers, were arrested in Europe while another Bitzlato co-founder, Anton Shkurenko, was briefly detained, questioned and released by Russian authorities in February.
In an interview before that, Shkurenko revealed that Bitzlato plans to move to Russia and restart operations from there. Despite the fact that French law enforcement had seized the platform’s hot wallet, he also promised to partially restore withdrawals.
In a message posted on the Telegram channel in early March, the exchange announced that it is beginning to process withdrawals of customer funds. Bitzlato was offline for over a month after its site was taken down by investigators in France. According to Europol, it has exchanged over 1 billion dollars in dirty money.
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Anatoly Legkodymov, Bitzlato, Charges, China, Co-Founder, Criminal Dividends, Crypto Exchange, Exchange, Federal Court, Founder, Hong Kong, Illegal Funds, Legkodymov, Money Laundering, Owner, Russia, Russian, Trading Platform, USA
Do you expect other arrests and charges in the Bitzlato case? Share your thoughts on the topic in the comments section below.
Lubomir Tassev is a journalist from tech-savvy Eastern Europe who likes Hitchens’ quote: “To be a writer is what I am, rather than what I do.” Besides crypto, blockchain and fintech, international politics and economics are two other sources of inspiration.
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