Suex, a cryptocurrency broker based in Russia, has been sanctioned by the US Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control for allegedly assisting in the laundering of ransomware payments. Americans are no longer permitted to use the company’s services.
Russian Suex is on the OFAC’s no-fly list.
Suex, a Russian OTC crypto broker, has been blacklisted by the US Treasury for allegedly laundering ransomware payments.
Suax was targeted and placed on OFAC’s blacklist for the first time, marking the first time the US has sanctioned a cryptocurrency exchange platform. Suex, which has offices in Moscow and St. Petersburg, facilitated payments for ransomware actors, scammers, and darknet market operators, according to the Treasury’s announcement on Tuesday.
The updated OFAC advisory document states:
“In Sep. 2021, OFAC designated SUEX OTC, S.R.O. (“SUEX”), a virtual currency exchange, for its part in facilitating financial transactions for ransomware actors, involving illicit proceeds from at least eight ransomware variants. Analysis of known SUEX transactions showed that over 40% of SUEX’s known transaction history was associated with illicit actors.”
Chainanalysis, a blockchain analytics firm that assisted OFAC in its investigation of Suex, revealed today that it had been following the broker’s money laundering activity for quite some time. Suex had processed hundreds of millions of dollars in cryptocurrency over the last three years, much of it allegedly coming from illicit and high-risk sources, according to Chainanalysis.
Suex laundered over $160 million in Bitcoin alone, according to Chainanalysis’ report, converting the illicit proceeds into cash at physical branches in Moscow, St. Petersburg, and possibly other offices outside of Russia. Over $50 million in Bitcoin is said to have come from the illegal BTC-e crypto exchange, which was shut down by US authorities years ago.
Before the announcement, Deputy Treasury Secretary Wally Adeyemo told reporters, “Today’s action is a signal of our intention to expose and disrupt the illicit infrastructure using these attacks.”
Following the Colonial Pipeline incident earlier this year, the United States has decided to focus its attention on cryptocurrency ransomware attacks, implying that more sanctions on crypto platforms that aid these activities should be expected. Treasury Secretary Jenet Yallen elaborated on OFAC’s recent action in a Tuesday statement:
“Ransomware and cyber attacks are victimizing businesses large and small across America and are a direct threat to our economy. We will continue to crack down on malicious actors. As cyber criminals use increasingly sophisticated methods and technology, we are committed to using the full range of measures, to include sanctions and regulatory tools, to disrupt, deter, and prevent ransomware attacks.”
OFAC administers and enforces sanctions against targeted foreign countries or individuals, such as terrorists, international narcotics traffickers, and money launderers, based on US foreign policy and national security goals. When the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) “blacklists” or adds someone to the Specially Designated Nationals and Blocked Persons List (SDN), their assets are frozen and U.S. citizens are barred from dealing with them.