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US officials seize $6.1M in crypto from ransomware actors, adds Chatex to sanctions list

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US officials seize $6.1M in crypto from ransomware actors, adds Chatex to sanctions list

The United States Department of the Treasury has announced it will impose sanctions on the cryptocurrency exchange Chatex and its support network for allegedly facilitating transactions for ransomware actors.

In an advisory update issued on Nov. 8, the Treasury Department Office of Foreign Assets Control, or OFAC, added Chatex as well as IZIBITS OU, Chatextech SIA, and Hightrade Finance to its list of entities sanctioned by the U.S. government. The department claimed Chatex has “direct ties” with Czech Republic and Russia-based business Suex OTC, which it sanctioned in September.

According to OFAC, Chatex has helped facilitate transactions for ransomware groups, with more than half of the exchange’s transactions “traced to illicit or high-risk activities such as darknet markets, high-risk exchanges, and ransomware.” The addition of the exchange to the sanctions list follows Latvian and Estonian authorities suspending Chatextech’s operations and revoking IZIBITS OU’s license, respectively.

“Unprincipled virtual currency exchanges like Chatex are critical to the profitability of ransomware activities, especially by laundering and cashing out the proceeds for criminals,” said the department. “Treasury will continue to use all available authorities to disrupt malicious cyber actors, block ill-gotten criminal proceeds, and deter additional actions against the American people.”

In the same announcement, OFAC alleged Ukrainian national Yaroslav Vasinskyi and Russian national Yevgeniy Polyanin had been part of ransomware attacks against multiple U.S. government entities as well as many in the private sector. As part of the Treasury Department’s actions, U.S. residents are prohibited from engaging in transactions with Vasinskyi, Polyanin, Chatex, and all associated entities, or they may face enforcement action or sanctions themselves.

The State Department announced it would be offering a $10 million reward for information leading to the location of anyone in a “key leadership position” in the Sodinokibi/REvil ransomware group. In addition, it would offer a $5 million reward leading to the arrest or conviction of anyone attempting to initiate a major ransomware attack.

Related: Bitcoin ledger as a secret weapon in war against ransomware

During a press conference today, U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland said the Justice Department had indicted Vasinsky in August for his alleged role in hacking personal computers as well as conspiring to commit money laundering by demanding payment for the ransomware attacks. According to the Attorney General, Polish authorities arrested Vasinsky in October and he is awaiting extradition to the United States. In addition, the Justice Department announced a similar indictment against Polyanin, having seized $6.1 million in crypto from 3,000 ransomware attacks for which he was allegedly responsible.

“For the second time in five months, we announced the seizure of digital proceeds of ransomware deployed by a transnational criminal group,” said Garland. “This will not be the last time — the U.S. government will continue to aggressively pursue the entire ransomware ecosystem and increase our nation’s resilience to cyber threats.”

Under President Joe Biden, combating ransomware attacks to critical U.S. infrastructure has been a major issue. In June, a government task force seized more than $2 million in crypto used to pay for ransom following an attack on the Colonial Pipeline system.

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Bitcoin (BTC) RSI and MACD Generate Bullish Divergences Near $40,000 Support

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Bitcoin (BTC) RSI and MACD Generate Bullish Divergences Near $40,000 Support

Bitcoin (BTC) indicators are showing several short-term bullish signals above a strong support level, making a breakout above resistance a likely scenario.

Since Jan 8, BTC has been trading slightly above the $41,500 mark. Despite slipping to a local low of $39,650 on Jan 10, it bounced immediately and created a very long lower wick. This shows a great deal of buying pressure at this level.

More importantly, both the RSI and MACD have generated significant bullish divergences (green lines). These divergences normally present before significant upward movements. 

If an upward move transpires, it’s likely to be met by resistance around $50,930. This target is both the 0.382 Fib retracement resistance level and part of a horizontal resistance area.

Short-term BTC movement

The six-hour chart shows that BTC has broken out from a descending resistance line and validated it as support after (green icon). 

After a brief rebound, BTC created a slightly lower low on Jan 19. This served to validate the $41,200 area as minor support. 

BTC is also following another descending resistance line (dashed) in the shorter term. A breakout above it would likely take the price to $45,850. This target is the minor 0.5 Fib retracement resistance level and a horizontal resistance area.

Finally, the two-hour chart shows that BTC is potentially trading inside a descending wedge, which is considered a bullish pattern. Currently, it’s approaching the end of this pattern which has been in place since Jan 13. 

Similar to the daily time frame, the RSI has generated a considerable bullish divergence, supporting the possibility of a breakout.

So, when taking into account the ample support just below the price and numerous bullish divergences, an eventual breakout seems like the most likely scenario. 

This is also in line with the short-term wave count.

For BeInCrypto’s previous Bitcoin (BTC) analysis, click here.

Disclaimer

All the information contained on our website is published in good faith and for general information purposes only. Any action the reader takes upon the information found on our website is strictly at their own risk.

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Singapore crypto ATMs shut down after central bank crackdown

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Singapore crypto ATMs shut down after central bank crackdown

The move is part of a broader effort by the Singaporean watchdog to regulate advertising cryptocurrency to the public.

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Singapore crypto ATMs shut down after central bank crackdown

The Monetary Authority of Singapore has reportedly decided to shut down cryptocurrency automatic teller machines in the city-state.

According to Bloomberg, to comply with new regulations issued by the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS), Singapore’s central bank, cryptocurrency ATM operators in the country were forced to shut down their operations on Tuesday.

The new clampdown on cryptocurrency ATMs sparked several reactions from the city’s cryptocurrency operators, with Daenerys & Co saying it was “surprised” and canceling its ATM service on Tuesday evening. Its main competitor, Deodi, switched off its ATM network and sent staff to remove its crypto ATMs.

The move is part of a broader effort by the Singaporean watchdog to regulate advertising cryptocurrency to the public. On Monday, the central bank released new guidance that bans crypto firms from advertising their services in public places, websites and social networks.

Singapore’s souring on crypto, however, is more of a surprise. Coincub, a fintech startup based in the city-state, named Singapore the most crypto-friendly country in the world in December, owing to the city’s “good legislative environment” and “high rate of cryptocurrency adoption.” However, the legislative climate in the city-state appears to be cloudier right now.

Related: UK advertiser ASA continues crypto ad banning spree

Cointelegraph reached out to the MAS for more information but did not receive a response as of publishing time. This article will be updated if new details emerge.

The clampdown in Singapore came soon after similar advertising limitations were enacted in Spain and the United Kingdom. On Monday, the Spanish government required crypto businesses to submit ad campaigns for regulatory approval 10 days in advance, while the U.K. launched a review of cryptocurrency advertising norms, vowing to crack down on products with deceptive claims.

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Turkish ruling party holds meeting in metaverse, talks crypto regulation

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Turkish ruling party holds meeting in metaverse, talks crypto regulation

Turkey’s governing political party has discussed the upcoming crypto regulation in its first metaverse meeting.

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Turkish ruling party holds meeting in metaverse, talks crypto regulation

Ak Party, Turkey’s governing party, held its first metaverse meeting on Monday wherein it discussed upcoming crypto regulation. 

The Grand National Assembly of Turkey (TBMM) hosted its first meeting in the metaverse, Cointelegraph Turkey reported. Attending the virtual meeting were TBMM group deputy chairmen Mahir Ünal and Mustafa Elitaş along with Ömer İleri, the vice president of Ak Party responsible for information and communication technologies.

Physically, Elitaş attended the meeting from the parliament building, while Ünal and İleri were at the Ak Party (AKP) headquarters. Crypto regulation was the highlight of the meeting, Ünal told state-run news agency AA, adding that crypto assets require both financial and legal regulations.

Elitaş, who recently hosted a meeting with representatives from the Turkish crypto ecosystem at TBMM, stressed that it’s impossible to stay out of the virtual world. “I believe that metaverse-based meetings would be improved expeditiously and become an essential part of our lives,” he added.

Elitaş is also expected to meet with Binance Turkey on Thursday. As reported before, Binance Turkey was fined 8 million Turkish lira (about $600,000) after failing an audit for monitoring Anti-Money Laundering compliance.

As blockchain technology made digital ownership possible, Turkey has sped up its metaverse efforts, Öİleri said. Seeing the metaverse as a nascent yet quickly developing field, he predicted that it could impact many industries in the future.

Ak Parti olarak #Metaverse üzerinden ilk toplantımızı gerçekleştirdik. pic.twitter.com/19Xfd6sIWR

— AK Parti Bilgi İletişim Teknolojileri (@AKbilgitek) January 17, 2022

The metaverse is open for development in virtual reality, product management and innovative business models, İleri noted, adding that AKP wants to pave the way for a metaverse ecosystem.

Related: Turkey’s crypto law is ready for parliament, President Erdoğan confirms

İleri argued that digital and technological advancements have legal, economic and social aspects. The AKP is striving to develop policies regarding crypto assets and social media to protect the citizens while empowering Turkey’s innovation capabilities, he concluded.

While the Turkish government is keen on blockchain technology and a central bank digital currency, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan is known for his stern stance against cryptocurrencies. Last year in a public Q&A session, he “declared war” on crypto, saying, “We have absolutely no intention of embracing cryptocurrencies.”

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