Hướng Dẫn Mua Bán Bitcoin Trên Wex

How an offshore Bitcoin exchange and a London payments company were misused lớn create a high-tech money-laundering machine
BTC-e was a shadowy crypto-currency brokerage serving hundreds ofthousands of customers. Mayzus Financial Services was an apparently reputablepayments provider with a London address & a licence from the FinancialConduct Authority. Through a website of offshore entities, anonymous UK shellcompanies and secret ngân hàng accounts, their combined services could be exploitedkhổng lồ create a high-tech money-laundering machine, right under regulators’ noses.

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“Doyou know Mr Alexander Vinnik?”

Givingevidence lớn the Greek supreme court in December 2017, Sergey Mayzus was facedwith an obvious question.

Vinnikwas a 38-year-old Russian. Four months earlier, while on holiday with hisfamily in the tourist village of Ouranoupoli, he had been arrested by plainclothes officers and charged withrunning a massive sầu international money-laundering scheme.

TheUnited States accused Vinnik of operating BTC-e, one of the most popularwebsites for buying và selling the crypto-currency Bitcoin. Lacking “basicanti-money laundering controls và policies”, the indictment alleged, “BTC-e emerged as one of the principal meansby which cyber criminals around the world laundered the proceeds of theirillicit activity.” Now they wanted to extradite Vinnik to lớn America khổng lồ standtrial.

BTC-e emerged as one of the principal means by which cyber criminals around the world laundered the proceeds of their illicit activity.- US Department of Justice

Thisplaced Mayzus in an awkward position. His UK company, Mayzus Financial Services (MFS), had opened at least sevenaccounts on its platform for BTC-e’s shell companies & staff, including onefor Vinnik himself, and handled around $100 million in transactions. MFSsubsidiaries provided instructions on how lớn use BTC-e on their own websites,while senior employees maintained personal accounts on the site. MFS evenresponded khổng lồ press enquiries on BTC-e’s behalf. Had Mayzus ever met Vinnik?

“I’mseeing hyên today for the first time in my life.”

Thejudge was nonplussed. “So why did you tell the court that you would giveevidence about a man you don’t know?”

BTC-elaunched in June 2011. It got off lớn a slow start—a leaked snapshot of thesite’s user database, seen by Global Witness, shows that just trăng tròn,000 people hadjoined by the end of 2012. But when the market-leading Bitcoin exchange, Mt.Gox, ran into financial & legal trouble the following year, BTC-e surged. ByOctober năm trước, when the snapshot was taken, BTC-e had almost 570,000 users. Morethan a fifth of them had their language mix khổng lồ Russian.


BTC-e’susers handled serious amounts of money. In October 2014 they held a total of79,114 Bitcoins, worth more than $30 million at the time và around $680million at November 2019 exchange rates. Users held another $30 milliondenominated in US dollars and more than $trăng tròn million in the alternativecrypto-currencies Litecoin & Namecoin. At its height in the autumn of năm 2016,BTC-e handled around 15% of all trade between US dollars & Bitcoin,making it the third biggest exchange in the market. Prior lớn Vinnik’s arrest itwas mentioned in reports in the Financial Times, the Wall Street Journal, the New Yorker, TIME & a galaxy of speciadanh mục publications.

Muchlike conventional currency speculators, many BTC-e users were out lớn make aprofit by buying low and selling high. But as the indictment makes clear,explaining the exchange’s “criminal design”, BTC-e’s no-questions-askedconversion between crypto-currencies và cash also attracted criminals.Accounts on BTC-e were practically anonymous: “a user could create a BTC-etrương mục with nothing more than a username và gmail address, which often boreno relationship to the identity of the actual user.” This created theopportunity lớn convert the proceeds of cyber-crime, obtained as Bitcoin, intoseemingly legitimate ngân hàng balances. A 2013 report for Wired referredkhổng lồ BTC-e specifically as an “offshore exchange … that implementanti-money-laundering protections.”

Hackersused accounts on BTC-e khổng lồ launder hundreds of thousands of Bitcoins stolen fromthe Mt. Gox exchange, contributing lớn its eventual collapse. The site alsoproved useful to lớn real-world criminals. Analysis by Global Witness has linkedgmail addresses used lớn register accounts on BTC-e khổng lồ users advertisingprescription drugs, cannabis và bootleg cigarettes on popular dark netmarkets—online bazaars accessible through a special browser which protectsusers’ anonymity. The exchange even facilitated corruption aý muốn those taskedwith investigating cyber-crime: in năm ngoái, US Secret Service agent Shaun Bridges used a BTC-e trương mục to lớn embezzle more than1,606 Bitcoins (November 2019: around $14 million) seized under the authority ofthe US government.


Exchanges like BTC-e, where Bitcoin meets cash, present money-laundering risks. Phokhổng lồ credit: QuoteInspector.com / Flickr

Perhapsmost troubling for US prosecutors is a links lớn the Russian state-sponsoredhacking group known as Fancy Bear, which interfered in the năm 2016 presidentialelection. In order to carry out “phishing” attacks on key targets, Fancy Bearsent emails from spoof web addresses paid for with Bitcoin. Analysis of the Bitcoin blockchain—a record of allprevious transactions—suggests that one of these addresses, mimicking theWorld Anti-Doping Agency, was paid for with funds originating from an accounton BTC-e.

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Tohide their identities while lending a veneer of respectability to theenterprise, BTC-e’s operators used a tried and tested tool: an anonymous UKcompany. Always Efficient LLP.. was registered as alimited liability partnership in July 2014 by two nominees based in theSeychelles. The introduction of the persons with significant control (PSC)register in the UK in 2016 should have forced Always Efficient’s real ownershad to show their faces, và on 9 July Alexander Buyanov was registered as thecompany’s PSC. But when a Russian journamenu tracked Buyanov down to a Moscow karaokebar where he worked as a DJ, Buyanov claimed he had never heard of the company.

AlwaysEfficient wasn’t the only shell company behind BTC-e. According to the USindictment, the exchange’s main legal entity was Canton Business Corporation,registered in the Seychelles, while a lawsuit filed in Cyprus by Sergey Mayzusnames fourteen other companies, all registered in Britain, its overseasterritories or former colonies. Those registered in the UK itself raise themost obvious red flags. Chartwood Technology LLPhường was constituted as aLondon-registered partnership of two Dominican companies which have sầu been linked to large-scale money-laundering scandals. Gem Invest LP., registered inEdinburgh, was formed by the same overseas partners as a company allegedly linked khổng lồ former Ukrainian president Petro Poroshenko.

In documents filed with the court Mayzus claimed Vinnik had “maintainedan unauthorized money transfer business” without MFS’s knowledge, demanding€200 million in compensation from Vinnik and the listed shell companies for thefraud and resulting damage lớn MFS’s reputation. But in a 2017 interview with radio stationKommersant FM, Vinnik’s lawyer, Timofey Musatov, alleged that Mayzus himselfcontrolled BTC-e’s main shell companies, not the other way around.

In a statementprovided lớn Global Witness, Mayzus strongly denied any link khổng lồ BTC-e’scorporate structures and accused Musatov himself of having a personal financialinterest in the case. Musatov declined to provide a formal bình luận, butcharacterised Mayzus’s claims as an attempt to distract from the fundamentalsof the case. In a press statement given in October, Vinnik reiterated the claimthat Mayzus benefited financially from the collapse of BTC-e.

Under control?

The UK’s persons with significant control register was introduced in June năm 2016. It requires companies to lớn provide an up-to-date record of their beneficial owners and is accessible through the Companies House website.

While the register is useful in principle, analysis by Global Witness earlier this year found that it remains incomplete và filled with inaccuracies. More than 330,000 companies declare that they have sầu no beneficial owner, 487 are part of circular ownership structures and several are apparently controlled by children under the age of two.

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Global Witness recommends that companies be required to lớn submit identification and proof of control when reporting PSCs và that the government gives Companies House sufficient resources proactively to check the register for red flags.