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Brazilian authorities seize $33M in crypto money laundering case involving Bitcoin

The police said that the crypto exchanges sold Bitcoin to fictitious and disreputable companies and facilitated their creators access to the country’s banking system.

Image by: Rafa Bahiense / Flickr

Sun, 25 Jul 2021, 15:45 pm UTC

Brazilian authorities recently seized R$172 million (usd$33 million) as part of an ongoing money-laundering investigations. The laundering was reportedly carried out through crypto exchange and involved Bitcoin, the world’s largest cryptocurrency by market cap.

On Thursday, the 1st Precinct Police Investigations Division, a unit Department of Protection Police Citizenship (DPPC) tasked with investigations involving anti-money laundering launched an operation called the Exchange Transaction. Authorities recovered funds worth R$172 million (usd$33 million) during said operation, according to the official statement.

The funds were recovered after the police carried out six search warrants in Sao Paulo and Diadema. The Brazilian judiciary authorized the seizing of the assets of 17 companies and two individuals as part of the investigations. However, the report did not yet release the names of those being investigated.

The court orders came after authorities’ initial investigation on the involved crypto exchanges. The report said that the platforms sold Bitcoin to fictitious and disreputable companies and facilitated the companies’ creators access to the country’s banking system.

“Preliminary investigations showed that companies transacted large amounts among themselves and then sent the amounts to brokers, responsible for the acquisition of digital assets, to later deliver to their customers the cryptocurrency validation code (hash), which can be used in anywhere in the world without the possibility of tracing or linking to origin,” the Civil Police of Brazil said in the statement.

One of the exchanges transacted $1.93 million in cryptos with six bogus companies during a five-month period. During the same period, the other eight bogus firms purchased $2.9 million in cryptocurrencies.

The police investigation also revealed that the funds were sent to offshore companies, according to Coindesk. The money was then subsequently “repatriated by simulating sales or service provision transactions.”

The police also said that there was no verification as to the legitimacy of the companies they dealt with as well as to the origins of the transaction on the crypto exchanges’ part. In addition, the exchanges are alleged to have knowingly operated on behalf of a criminal group engaged in crypto money laundering.

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