Europol Arrests 5 Execs at Bitzlato, Seizes €1B in Crypto Linked to Crime

• Europol has arrested 5 of Bitzlato’s senior executives, including the CEO, financial director, and marketing director in Spain.
• In course of the house search, Europol said it seized about €18 million ($19.5 million) worth of cryptocurrency and froze over 100 crypto accounts holding assets worth about €50 million ($54.3 million).
• Further analysis by Europol disclosed that about 46% of the assets exchanged through Bitzlato worth roughly €1 billion ($1.08 billion) had links to criminal activities.

On January 23, 2023, the European Union police agency (Europol) announced that they had arrested five senior executives of the sanctioned Bitzlato exchange. This arrest was made following eight house searches across Spain, Cyprus, Portugal, and the United States. According to the report, the arrested individuals included the CEO, financial director, and marketing director of Bitzlato.

The searches resulted in the seizure of about €18 million ($19.5 million) worth of cryptocurrency and the freezing of over 100 crypto accounts holding assets worth about €50 million ($54.3 million). Furthermore, Europol also discovered that Bitzlato had facilitated the laundering of various crypto-assets, including 119 Bitcoin worth €2.1 billion.

In addition to this, Europol’s analysis of the assets exchanged through Bitzlato revealed that approximately 46% of them, worth roughly €1 billion ($1.08 billion), had links to criminal activities. On January 18, Bitzlato’s founder Anatoly Legkodymov was arrested by US authorities for running a money-transmitting business, and leading crypto exchange Binance was named as a top three recipient of Bitzlato’s illegal funds.

Europol’s investigation into Bitzlato is an example of the growing prevalence of crypto-related crime. It is likely that in the future, more exchanges will come under scrutiny, and more arrests will be made as law enforcement agencies become better equipped to tackle these kinds of crimes.