On December 7th, Russian businessman Anatoly Legkodymov, co-founder of the Bitzlato digital currency exchange, pleaded guilty to criminal charges in the US and agreed to relinquish ownership of assets worth $23 million.
Legkodymov, who owns most of the cryptocurrency exchange registered in Hong Kong, is accused of processing around $700 million in illicit funds. He admitted to a charge of operating an unlicensed money-transmitting business that transported and transmitted illicit funds when he appeared before Judge Eric Vitaliano in Brooklyn, New York.
According to US officials, Legkodymov operated Bitzlato from Shenzhen, China. In court, the defendant admitted knowing that some of the exchange’s customers had transferred funds from illegal activities.
Specifically, Legkodymov admitted that Bitzlato processed some digital currency funds that were derived from ransomware payments related to Hydra Market, an online platform that prosecutors allege is a hub for drug-related services, stolen financial information, and money laundering.
Bitzlato’s website has been replaced with a notice stating that French authorities have seized the service in a coordinated action of international law enforcement. Legkodymov was arrested in Miami, Florida on January 17th and was held in custody in Brooklyn. He faces up to five years in prison. The date of his sentencing is yet to be determined.