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Binance and Ukraine Capture Cyber Criminals Laundering $42M

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Binance, the world’s largest cryptocurrency exchange, is collaborating with law enforcement authorities in Ukraine to take down some large-scale money laundering schemes.

Working with the exchange, Ukraine’s cyber police identified and arrested a group of criminals involved in a $42 million ransomware and money laundering operation, Binance told Cointelegraph in a criminal investigation report on Aug. 18.

According to the report, the criminal group has been laundering millions of dollars in cryptocurrencies since 2018. A Binance representative said that the suspects were all Ukranian nationals, and were arrested in June 2020.

According to Binance, the group was primarily operating in Ukraine but was also involved in several cyber attacks on a global scale. The spokesperson denied to provide additional details about the size of the group, or other individuals and entities involved.

The successful criminal investigation comes soon after Binance began cooperating with Ukrainian law enforcement in early 2020.

The investigation is part of Binance’s so-called “Bulletproof Exchangers” project that aims to track down transactions between Binance and high-risk entities.

Investigations of this kind are primarily conducted by Binance’s internal risk intelligence unit known as Binance Sentry as well as an analytics arm, the Security Data Science division.

Alongside Ukraine, Binance handles law enforcement requests from numerous jurisdictions across the globe, the exchange representative noted. As reported, Binance was involved in a similar investigation in the United Kingdom in September 2019. The exchange said that Binance helped British prosecutors investigate an online fraud that caused $51 million in losses to victims.

Binance’s efforts to help Ukraine combat local crypto crimes comes against the backdrop of an established cooperation between the exchange and the former Soviet republic. In late 2019, Binance signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Ukraine’s Ministry of Digital Transformation to help Ukraine develop crypto-related legislation. 

According to a report by major crypto analytics firm Chainalysis, Binance and Huobi exchange received more than 52% of all illicit Bitcoin (BTC) transfers in 2019, with Binance itself accounting for more than 27% of the total.



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El Salvador reportedly weighing paying employees in Bitcoin

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Rolando Castro, the Minister of Labor and Social Welfare in El Salvador has said that the government is discussing whether companies in the country should pay their employees in Bitcoin.

According to local radio station 107.7 Fuego GMV, Castro has discussed the issue of employers paying their workers in Bitcoin (BTC) with officials from the Ministry of Finance and the Ministry of Economy. His remarks come a week after the country’s Legislative Assembly approved the use of the cryptocurrency as legal tender.

El Salvador’s 2001 Law of Monetary Integration, which provided the legislative framework to eventually replace the Salvadoran colón with the U.S. dollar, states that salaries and fees may only be paid in colónes or dollars. However, the former is rarely used in the Central American nation now.

Related: Bill to make Bitcoin legal tender passes in El Salvador

It’s unclear if the approval of Bitcoin as legal tender in the country will expand upon existing law or replace it. President Nayib Bukele’s draft of the law shows “tax contributions can be paid in Bitcoin” and “for accounting purposes, the USD will be used as the reference currency.”

Since first announcing he would be introducing the pro-Bitcoin legislation at the Bitcoin 2021 conference in Miami earlier this month, Bukele has taken to social media to promote cryptocurrencies and mining in El Salvador. Last week, the president called on the state-run geothermal power company to make certain facilities available to Bitcoin miners.