The founder of cryptocurrency exchange Bitzlato has denied guilt 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 which allegedly processed over $700 million in illicit funds.
Bitzlato Founder Legkodymov Appears in US Court
Anatoly Legkodymov, one of the founders and majority owner of the Russia-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 of laundering millions in criminal proceeds through the platform, which he has denied.
The Russian national, a resident of China, was detained by the FBI in Miami on Jan. 17 and charged with unlicensed money transmitting. The defendant was also accused of operating the Hong Kong-registered exchange that failed to implement anti-money laundering safeguards and processed more than $700 million dollars’ worth of illicit funds.
The money is allegedly related 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 biggest crypto pyramid scheme, Finiko.
In late January, four more members of Bitzlato’s team, including three executives, 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 relaunch operations from there. Despite French law enforcement having seized the platform’s hot wallet, he also promised to partially restore withdrawals.
In a message posted in its Telegram channel in early March, the exchange announced it’s starting to process withdrawals of customer funds. Bitzlato was offline for over a month after its website was taken down by investigators in France. According to Europol, it has exchanged over $1 billion of dirty money.