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33 money laundering crypto crims targeted worldwide in 3 separate cases

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Law enforcement officials from around the world hav taken action against a major transnational money laundering operation involving cryptocurrency.

On Oct. 15, Europol announced a successful operation across 16 countries that resulted in the arrest of 20 individuals suspected of working for the QQAAZZ criminal network.

The organization is accused of laundering tens of millions of euros for top cybercriminals since 2016. The funds are allegedly transferred through international bank accounts, shell companies based in Poland and Bulgaria, and via cryptocurrency mixing services.

Around 40 homes were searched across the United Kingdom, Spain, Italy, Latvia, and Bulgaria as part of “Operation 2BaGoldMule,” with arrests made in Australia, the U.S, the U.K, Portugal, Spain, Latvia, and Poland.

Bitcoin mining equipment was also seized in Bulgaria.

Map of participating countries and arrests: Europol

On the same day, a 40-year-old man was arrested in New Zealand for using cryptocurrency to launder more than $2 million for criminals. The man also laundered funds by purchasing luxury vehicles, including a Lamborghini and Mercedes G63.

The Auckland resident is now facing 30 charges, including allegations of obtaining $1 million in credit from a bank using deception. Six other New Zealanders were arrested in a series of raids and asset seizures across the country the previous day.

Oct. 15 also saw the U.S. Department of Justice unseal a superseding indictment charging six individuals for their participation in a conspiracy to “launder millions of dollars of drug proceeds on behalf of foreign cartels.”

The indictment alleges the individuals used casinos, front companies, cash smuggling, and bank accounts to launder money on behalf of drug syndicates. One suspect is also accused of planning to bribe a United States Department of State official using cryptocurrency, hoping the official would create fraudulent U.S. passports for him and his associates.



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London Stock Exchange-listed firm inks FCA’s approval for crypto services

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Mode Global Holdings, a London Stock Exchange-listed fintech group, has secured major regulatory approvals for cryptocurrency and fintech operations in the United Kingdom.

The company announced Thursday that Mode has secured its Electronic Money Institution license and AMLD5 registration from the U.K. Financial Conduct Authority.

The AMLD5 registration has been granted to Mode’s crypto arm Fibermode Limited, establishing it as an official crypto asset firm in the United Kingdom, pursuant to the amended regulations on money laundering, terrorist financing and transfer of funds.

The AMLD5 registration is a requirement for crypto-related businesses in the country that fall within the scope of money laundering regulations. According to the announcement, Mode is the fifth company to have received this registration to date since the FCA became the official AML supervisor of the crypto industry in the U.K. in January 2020.

Alongside the AMLD5, Mode’s subsidiary Greyfoxx Limited also acquired the EMI license, which enables Mode to offer a “range of innovative financial services” to both businesses and consumers in the United Kingdom, the announcement notes.

Following the acquisition of new regulatory approvals, Mode is planning to further expand its crypto services, including decommissioning its investment product known as the “Bitcoin Jar.” The product aims to allow Mode customers to use Bitcoin (BTC) to generate BTC interest rather than simply holding it in a wallet or on an exchange.

Mode CEO Ryan Moore noted that the new regulatory developments provide a major step in Mode’s mission to deliver a trusted and regulated environment. “It means we now have the ability to scale our operations and continue delivering innovative payments products for our customers under our own EMI licence. Both the EMI licence and the AMLD5 registration ensure business transparency, strong oversight and give our customers confidence in our offering,” he said.

Related: UK regulator warns against 111 unregistered crypto companies… and FOMO

The latest news comes shortly after a member of the British Parliament pointed out major difficulties in the process of registering crypto firms under the FCA’s AML regulations in late May. Economic secretary John Glen elaborated that FCA was not able to process and register all applications by its previous deadline due to a significant number of firms failing to adopt robust AML control frameworks as well as employ proper staff.