US officials seize $6.1M worth of crypto from ransomware operators, Chatex is added to the sanctions list

Attorney General Merrick Garland stated that “This won’t be the last time” and that the U.S. government would continue to aggressively pursue all ransomware ecosystems to increase the nation’s resilience against cyber threats.
The United States Department of the Treasury announced that it would impose sanctions against Chatex and its support network. This is in response to the department’s September sanction of Suex OTC, a Russian-based business, and Chatextech OU. The department claimed Chatex has “direct ties” with Czech Republic and Russia-based business Suex OTC, which it sanctioned in September.According to OFAC, Chatex has helped facilitate transactions for ransomware groups, with more than half of the exchange’s transactions “traced to illicit or high-risk activities such as darknet markets, high-risk exchanges, and ransomware.” The addition of the exchange to the sanctions list follows Latvian and Estonian authorities suspending Chatextech’s operations and revoking IZIBITS OU’s license, respectively.”Unprincipled virtual currency exchanges like Chatex are critical to the profitability of ransomware activities, especially by laundering and cashing out the proceeds for criminals,” said the department. “Treasury will continue using all available authorities to disrupt malicious hackers, block ill-gotten criminal proceeds and deter additional actions towards the American people,” said OFAC. The Treasury Department’s actions include a ban on U.S. residents from transacting with Vasinskyi and Polyanin, Chatex, or imposing sanctions. It would also offer a $5 million reward for information leading to the arrest of or conviction of anyone trying to instigate a major ransomware operation. U.S. Attorney general Merrick Garland stated that Vasinsky was indicted by the Justice Department in August for allegedly hacking personal computers and conspiring to launder money by demanding ransomware payments. According to the Attorney General in the United States, Vasinsky was arrested by Polish authorities in October. He is currently awaiting extradition to the United States. The Justice Department also announced a similar indictment of Polyanin. He was accused of stealing $6.1 million worth of crypto from ransomware attacks that he was responsible for. “This will not the last time,” Garland said. “The U.S. government will continue aggressively to pursue the entire ransomware eco-system and increase our nation’s resilience to cyber threats. This has been a major concern under President Joe Biden. A government task force took more than $2 million worth of crypto to pay ransom after an attack on the Colonial Pipeline.

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