The Cyprus Police took part in a joint European operation that led to the seizure of an online cryptocurrency platform/exchange that was being used to launder money from illegal activities. Along with the government of Cyprus, the authorities of Belgium, Portugal, Spain, and the Netherlands took part in the operation, which was coordinated by the French and US authorities with assistance from Europol.
The Bitzlato platform acted as a Hong Kong-based cryptocurrency exchange and offered the possibility of exchanging cryptocurrencies for roubles. Law enforcement authorities seized the digital infrastructure of the France-based platform and interrogated leading members of its management.
According to investigations conducted by law enforcement agencies, 46% of the cryptocurrencies traded on this platform came from questionable practices like internet fraud, money laundering, and child pornography.
The operation, which took place simultaneously in all the participating nations, resulted in the identification and seizure of cryptocurrencies worth €18 million and the freezing of another €50 million in other cryptocurrency exchanges.
Five suspects have so far been arrested for this operation, one of them in Cyprus. Eight searches were carried out at premises in all countries involved, including one in Cyprus.
The operation on the Cypriot side involved the Cybercrime Directorate, and the European Investigation Warrant Office, in the presence of investigators and a prosecutor from France and with the help and assistance of the Anti-Crime Unit and the Europol National Unit.