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US Charges Chinese Companies to Leverage Crypto For Illicit Activities

11 October, 2023

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Eight Chinese Companies and their employees are charged by the US regulatory authority Department of Justice (DOJ), accused of taking advantage of cryptocurrency to proceed with illegal activities.  

The DOJ accused these companies of laundering money through crypto transactions to facilitate the production of illegal substances in the US. These companies and their employees utilize cryptocurrency to launder money by disguising their identity and location. The US Treasury Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) claimed at least 16 different crypto wallets are linked with the operation. The US department also sanctioned all Chinese nationals along with other criminal cases. The US Treasury and other law enforcement agencies are investigating the matter and tracking the individuals’ identities. Currently, the US Treasury has imposed sanctions on those connected to this operation. 

The US Attorney General Merrick Garland stated, “We are here today to deliver a message on behalf of the United States government. We know who is responsible for poisoning the American people with fentanyl. We know that this global fentanyl supply chain, which ends with the deaths of Americans, often starts with chemical companies in China.” 

The US Treasury Department also claimed they sanctioned 28 individuals, including Chinese-owned companies and residents. It should be noted, however, that none of the criminals have been arrested by the US, and the Chinese government has condemned the US allegations and has not provided support to the US authorities. Liu Pengyu, a spokesman from the Chinese embassy in Washington, China, declined the US decisions against Chinese Companies and also stated that the Chinese government takes a tough position towards counter-narcotics. Liu stated, “The US, disregarding China’s goodwill, has been scapegoating China through the tactics of sanctioning, smear, and slander. This has seriously eroded the foundation of China-US cooperation on counter-narcotics.” 

Previously, on May 31, 2023, US Senator, Elizabeth Warren, proposed a legislative approach to combat money laundering through digital assets platforms. According to Warren, AML regulations will enhance the security of the cryptocurrency platforms by promoting Know-Your-Customer (KYC) measures in the digital transactions wallets.

The Treasury Deputy, Wally Adeyemo, stated, “Over a dozen virtual currency wallers have been identified to be associated with these actors… the blocked wallets have received millions in USD, and over hundred in deposits, illustrating the scope and scale of the illegal operation.” Cryptocurrency wallets are used in different illegal activities worldwide; adequate business verification steps through robust technology assist countries in protecting the integrity of the global financial ecosystem. 

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