Transparency International, an international anti-corruption organization, has discovered that several cryptocurrency exchanges operate in the business district of the city of Moscow, which are willing to anonymously transfer money abroad, including UK. This is stated in the report of the organization (.pdf).
Transparency employees studied announcements on specialized forums and descriptions in Google Maps and found that 21 crypto exchanges operated in the city of Moscow. 14 of them are OTC brokers willing to exchange cash rubles for . Eight crypto exchanges have announced that they are ready to exchange USDT for British pounds, after which they will issue money in London.
According to the organization, eight exchanges included the Suex exchange, which in 2021 to hit sanctioned by the US Treasury Department due to links with ransomware developers. Now Suex’s website is down, but the company’s telegram chat operator has agreed to exchange 15,000 USDT for pounds and withdraw cash in London.
All eight exchanges have a roughly similar transfer process: first you need to prepay by transferring USDT to a crypto wallet number, after which the courier is ready to bring money to a specific location in London that day or the next day. Almost all crypto exchanges, in a conversation with Transparency employees, said that Russian-speaking couriers work in London. In each case, Transparency employees were able to trade USDT exchanges worth more than £10,000.
Having had access to the addresses of the crypto wallets used for transactions with USDT, the authors of the study found that, on average, between $420 and $470,000 passed through these wallets per month. Each exchange uses more than one such wallet in its work.
The study, Transparency employees write, shows that there are several shadow crypto exchanges in the UK that are willing to exchange crypto for cash without identifying the customer, which is against UK laws. In transparency notedthat it carries corruption risks and “shows how accessible the financial system is to senior officials laundering proceeds”.