The founder of cryptocurrency exchange Bitzlato has denied charges in a money laundering case in the U.S. Anatoly Legkodymov, who allegedly processed over $700 million in illicit funds in transactions platform and was arrested in Miami in mid-January for his involvement in the operation of the platform.
Bitzlato founder Legkodymov appears in U.S. court
Anatoly Legkodymov, one of the founders and majority owner of the Russia-linked crypto exchange Bitzlato, made his first appearance in New York federal court on Tuesday, the Law360 portal reported. He was ordered held without bail on suspicion of laundering millions in criminal proceeds through the platform, which he denies.
A Russian national residing in China was detained by the FBI in Miami on January 17 and charged with unauthorized transfer of funds. The defendant is also accused of operating a Hong Kong-registered exchange that processed more than $700 million worth of illicit funds without implementing anti-money laundering safeguards.
The funds were allegedly linked to a variety of criminal activities and actors, including ransomware groups and drug traffickers. These include Hydra, once the largest darknet marketplace, which has its roots in Russia and was shut down in April after its servers were seized in Germany, and Finiko, Russia’s largest crypto pyramid scheme.
In late January, four people, including three Bitzlato executives, were arrested in Europe, and Bitzlato co-founder Anton Shkurenko was temporarily detained and questioned by Russian authorities in February before being released.
In an earlier interview, Shkurenko revealed that Bitzlato planned to move to Russia and resume operations from there. He also promised to partially restore withdrawals, despite French law enforcement seizing the platform’s hot wallet.
In a message posted on the Telegram channel in early March, the exchange announced that it had begun processing withdrawals of customer funds; Bitzlato had been offline for over a month after its website was taken down by French investigators. According toEuropol, more than $1 billion in dirty money has been exchanged.
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