PYMNTS MonitorEdge May 2024

Venezuelan Opposition Politician Warns of Crypto Use for Money Laundering


Venezuela is reportedly expected to increase its use of cryptocurrency when the United States reimposes oil sanctions on the country beginning June 1.

A Venezuelan opposition politician, Leopoldo Lopez, and a national security leader at New York-based blockchain data firm ChainalysisKristofer Doucette, released a report Monday (April 29) saying that democratic governments should set up structures to combat money laundering, Reuters reported Monday.

Lopez and Doucette said in the report that Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro has attempted to use crypto for “moving illicit proceeds into the international financial system,” per the Reuters report.

Chainalysis reported in February that money laundering tactics are changing, with more sophisticated crypto criminals using bridges and mixers.

It’s possible that crypto criminals are diversifying their money laundering activity across more nested services or deposit addresses to better hide it from law enforcement and exchange compliance groups and to lessen the impact of any one deposit address being frozen for suspicious activity, the company said at the time.

“As a result, fighting crypto crime via the targeting of money laundering infrastructure may require greater diligence and understanding of interconnectedness through on-chain activity than in the past, as the activity is more diffuse,” Chainalysis said in a report on crypto crime.

In March, the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) recommended that jurisdictions need to get a stronger grasp on the money-laundering and terrorist-financing threats posted by crypto. The FATF added that jurisdictions should license or register virtual asset service providers (VASPs) and carry out reviews of their business practices, products and technology.

Also in March, the United States sanctioned 13 Russia-linked FinTechs for allegedly using cryptocurrency to evade bans.

The sanctions were administered by the Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) and targeted FinTechs including Atomaiz, B-Crypto, Masterchain, Veb3 Tekhnologii and Veb3 Integrator as well as Tokenhurt, a Cypress-based company that is also majority owner of Atomaiz.

“Russia is increasingly turning to alternative payment mechanisms to circumvent U.S. sanctions and continue to fund its war against Ukraine,” Brian Nelson, undersecretary of the U.S. Treasury for terrorism and financial intelligence, said in a March 25 announcement.