Shine Trader Limited reports:
On Tuesday, the U.S. Treasury Department announced it was sanctioning a Czech cryptocurrency exchange called Suex for helping people launder money using ransomware.
(Source: US Treasury)
It is also the first time the US Treasury has added a cryptocurrency exchange to its sanctions list. The action is also seen as a response to ransomware attacks on a number of key industries and even government departments. The US Treasury said ransomware payments were worth $400m in 2020 alone, a more than fourfold increase from the previous year.
It is worth noting that despite the sanctions against cryptocurrency exchanges, the US Treasury Department stressed in its announcement that most cryptocurrency activities are legal, but the technology behind the payment tool is exploited by criminals. Due to the decentralized nature of cryptocurrencies, tracking related payments is much harder than remittances from traditional financial institutions.
In the case of Suex, the US Treasury accused it of helping to promote illegal activities that “obtain illicit gains for itself”.
The US government alleges that Suex “facilitated trading in illicit proceeds involving at least eight ransomware variants” and that more than 40 per cent of the exchange’s known trading history involved criminal activity.
Under the law, Suex will be subject to seizure of assets in U.S. custody and banned from trading with U.S. entities, including individual traders and financial institutions, after being found to have helped launder ransomware money.
In addition to imposing sanctions on exchanges, the Treasury Department on Tuesday further explained its guidelines for companies responding to ransomware attacks, “strongly recommending” that companies report to law enforcement as soon as possible and cooperate fully, while also discouraging companies from paying ransoms to hackers.