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The US Treasury Department has imposed a $53 million fine on Bittrex for violating sanctions and failing to avoid money laundering activities.
The Treasury Department stated that Bittrex had consented to pay $29 million in penalties for “apparent violations” of laws against money laundering including sanctions targeting particular nations.
Bittrex has been fined $29 million and $24 million, respectively, by the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) and the Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC).
Bittrex “unnecessarily exposed the U.S. financial system to threat actors,” as per the authorities. That is because, the exchange reportedly permitted users from the Crimean Peninsula of Ukraine, Iran, Cuba, Syria, and Sudan to transact roughly $263 million in cryptocurrencies from March 2014 to December 2017. It also stated that it had a weak anti-money laundering policy and as a result had “significant exposure to illicit finance.”
As the use of cryptocurrencies and certain other digital assets has increased over the past few years and as they become more integrated with the legal financial system, authorities are now responsible for assessing risks in a mostly unregulated industry.
“When virtual currency firms fail to implement effective sanctions compliance controls, including screening customers located in sanctioned jurisdictions, they can become a vehicle for illicit actors that threaten U.S national security,” said OFAC Director Andrea Gacki.
Himamauli Das, FinCEN Acting Director, stated that “Bittrex’s AML [anti-money laundering] program and SAR [suspicious activity reports] reporting failures” exposed the American financial sector to threat groups for many years.
The Treasury Department is making an effort to combat cryptocurrency criminality. The organization only recently forbade Americans from using Tornado currency, a well-known “coin mixing” tool that keeps Ethereum transactions untraceable.