Suspects of French Treasury cryptocurrency fraud arrested in Israel

Israeli police have arrested three prime suspects linked to the laundering of several million USD via cryptocurrency from the French Treasury

Israeli police have arrested three prime suspects linked to the laundering of several million USD via cryptocurrency from the French Treasury. An investigation by the Israelian police, in cooperation with the French police and Europol, has led to the arrest, in Israel, of three unnamed suspects involved in a case of large-scale fraud targeting the French Treasury.

Several others have been taken into custody. The Israeli Tax authority and police report the uncovering of a money-laundering system, with a part of the funds being transported coming from crimes committed abroad. The system used digital currency on several platforms with the objective of masking the identity of the owner of the money.

The fraud targeted French social services. The accused used false files based on stolen identities to wrongfully access part-time unemployment benefits. France has seen a significant uptick of crypto-related fraud.

An AMF report published in April 2022 revealed that 25% of suspected frauds brought to the Autorité des Marchés Financières (FMA) in 2021 were related to crypto investments; the proportion in 2020 had been around 6%. The country has been taking steps in recent years against the misuse of cryptocurrencies. In 2019, it introduced the PACTE law, which created a regulatory framework for digital assets.

In June 2021, the country widened the scope of Anti-Money Laundering compliance to crypto-to-crypto transactions, and banned anonymous transactions. An identity verification process for all crypto customers was made mandatory for crypto-to-crypto exchange platforms, as were screening and monitoring of customers and verification of business’s activities. Cryptocurrency and money-laundering: a salient problem The fraud targeting the French Treasury is among many crypto-related crimes to come to light in recent times.

Last week, blockchain analytics company Elliptic revealed that at least USD 540 million  had been laundered via Renbridge, a channel which transfers money between blockchains. Also last week, India froze assets of the Indian arm of Singapore-based crypto lender Vauld, accusing it of helping another firm, Yellow Tune Technologies, launder illegally acquired money to the tune of over USD 46 mln . Figures from blockchain data company Chainanalysis earlier this year revealed a 30% rise in the amount of cryptocurrency laundered globally between 2020 and 2021, to a total of USD 8.

6 bln in 2021 alone. A report from Europol, also this year, identified money laundering as the most common illicit use of cryptocurrency, and highlighted the increasing complexity of these laundering schemes. Europol noted that cryptocurrency is attractive for criminals due to the speed with which money can be transferred across the world, and its semi-anonymous nature.

The report observed that cryptocurrency had been the payment medium of choice for many criminal networks during the pandemic. .

Aug 17, 2022 14:46
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