Anna Baydakova – Investigative reporter, focusing on Eastern Europe and Russia.
Ukrainian prosecutors said they have seized a wealth of assets belonging to over-the-counter (OTC) brokers who illegally facilitated cryptocurrency purchases for users from Russia and Russia-occupied territories.
The clients of those dealers were able “to convert cash and non-cash funds into cryptocurrency, without paying taxes,” the Prosecutor General’s office announced Tuesday in a Ukrainian-language press release that received little notice in the West.
It’s not clear when the trades happened or whether it was before or after Russia started a war in Ukraine this winter.
The authorities seized 850,000 euros, US$470,000 and 460,000 Ukrainian hryvnia (amounting to about $1.67 million in total); 830 kilograms of silver; six pieces of land; and three apartments. All were the proceeds of illegal crypto trades, the Prosecutor General’s office said. The assets, worth around $3.39 million combined, were handed over to Ukraine’s Asset Recovery and Management Agency, which is similar to the U.S. Marshals Service.
Local police are investigating fraud, money laundering and tax evasion charges against unnamed persons, prosecutors said.
Last year, Ukrainian law enforcement reported seizing similar amounts of money from crypto OTCs that allegedly served Russians and residents of the so-called Luhansk and Donetsk People’s Republic, Ukrainian territories occupied by Russian-backed paramilitary units since 2014.
On April 28, 2021, the Security Service of Ukraine (SSU) reported “blocking” the work of a group that facilitated crypto trades using Russian payment systems, which is illegal in Ukraine. The SSU reported seizing over 800 kilograms of silver and 43 million of Ukrainian hryvnias ($1.46 million), computers, phones, hard drives and “documents confirming the deals.”
The group under investigation processed over 240 million Ukrainian hryvnias ($8.12 million), 65 million ($2.2 million) of which were related to money laundering, the 2021 announcement said.