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US Treasury sanctions crypto exchange Chatex over ransomware ties

The move comes after the US government sanctioned the Suex exchange in September

The US Treasury Department has moved to sanctioned crypto exchange Chatex for its alleged involvement in ransomware operations.

The move comes after the Treasury sanctioned Suex, another virtual cryptocurrency exchange, back in September alleged role in facilitating financial transactions for ransomware actors.

The Department said that Chatex, which claims to have a presence in multiple countries, “has facilitated transactions for multiple ransomware variants.”

It added that analysis of Chatex’s known transactions indicates that over half are directly traced to illicit or high-risk activities, such as darknet markets, high-risk exchanges, and ransomware.  

The Treasury also claimed Chatex has direct ties with Suex, having used its function as a nested exchange to conduct transactions. 

“Chatex is being designated pursuant to Executive Order (E.O.) 13694, as amended, for providing material support to Suex and the threat posed by criminal ransomware actors,” it said in a statement.

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The US government said that such sanctions of exchanges that provide support to ransomware hackers would stop their funding and interrupt operations.

"Unprincipled virtual currency exchanges like Chatex are critical to the profitability of ransomware activities, especially by laundering and cashing out the proceeds for criminals," the Treasury added.

"Treasury will continue to use all available authorities to disrupt malicious cyber actors, block ill-gotten criminal proceeds, and deter additional actions against the American people."

Deputy Secretary of the Treasury Wally Adeyemo said that ransomware groups and criminal organizations have targeted American businesses and public institutions of all sizes and across sectors, “seeking to undermine the backbone of our economy.”

“We will continue to bring to bear all of the authorities at Treasury’s disposal to disrupt, deter, and prevent future threats to the economy of the United States. This is a top priority for the Biden Administration.”

The Office of Foreign Assets Control has also designated Ukrainian Yaroslav Vasinskyi (Vasinskyi) and Russian Yevgeniy Polyanin (Polyanin) for their part in perpetuating Sodinokibi/REvil ransomware incidents against the US. 

Vasinskyi deployed ransomware against at least nine U.S. companies, according to the US government. Vasinskyi is also responsible for the July 2021 ransomware activity against Kaseya, which caused significant disruptions to the computer networks of Kaseya’s customer base. Polyanin also deployed ransomware, targeting several US government entities and private-sector companies.

“These two individuals are part of a cybercriminal group that has engaged in ransomware activities and received more than $200 million in ransom payments paid in Bitcoin and Monero,” the government said in a statement.

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