Sanctioned crypto exchange Garantex probed over $20B USDT transfers

A dual probe by US and UK investigators is investigating the movement of 20 billion tether (USDT) through crypto exchange Garantex after both countries instituted sanctions against the exchange.

According to Bloomberg sources, the transactions involved in the probe may constitute one of the biggest breaches of wartime sanctions since Russia began its invasion of Ukraine.

The investigation into the possible violation of wartime sanctions doesn’t necessarily indicate wrongdoing by Tether Holdings or its affiliated companies. A Tether Holdings spokesperson reiterated that the firm remains committed to working with law enforcement to catch and prevent criminal misconduct.

According to an Estonian newspaper, Garantex has ties to a convicted gang member, a violent debt collection agency, and a state-backed oil company in Russia. With support from the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ), that newspaper published details of the misbehavior of people connected to Garantex.

Read more: Russian founder of sanctioned exchange Garantex starts Tether desk

According to the US Treasury, Garantex has willfully disregarded anti-money laundering (AML) and countering the financing of terrorism (CFT) obligations and has allowed its systems to be abused by illicit actors. Crypto wallets controlled by Garantex are listed on the Office of Foreign Assets Control’s Specially Designated Nationals List.

In December 2023, Russian bank InDeFi Bank launched a tether trading project in collaboration with Russian company Exved. An executive at that bank is the founder of Garantex.

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