US authorities imposed sanctions on cryptocurrency exchanger Chatex
The US Treasury Department, together with the US Department of Justice, announced the imposition of sanctions on the cryptocurrency exchange Chatex for its association with the ransomware creators.
The Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) under the US Treasury said Chatex and its partners IZIBITS OU, Hightrade Finance, and Chatextech SIA were on the sanctions list for facilitating payments to ransomware attackers. The latter has become a headache for major international companies and American lawmakers.
Chatex was also previously mentioned as part of the sanctions imposed on Suex, a Russian cryptocurrency exchange associated with the conversion of cybercriminals' funds. Restrictive measures against Suex were introduced in September this year, and Yegor Petukhovsky, who is the co-founder of both projects, announced his departure from Chatex almost immediately after what happened with Suex.
The US Treasury Department announced the criminal prosecution of Evgeny Polyanin and Yaroslav Vasinsky, associated with the REvil criminal group, which is behind the creation and distribution of ransomware. In July, Vasinsky launched an attack on software company Kaseya, infecting 1,500 different firms around the world. This was stated in the indictment filed in the Texas US District Court. After the malware infection, some of Kaseya's customers made the decision to pay a ransom to keep their production processes going. The rest had to wait for the decryption key distributed by the American authorities a few weeks after the attack by the hacker group.
Now the 28-year-old Russian citizen Yevgeny Polyanin is still at large, and the 22-year-old Ukrainian citizen Yaroslav Vasinsky was detained by the security forces in Poland and is now awaiting the completion of the extradition procedure. Law enforcement officials claim that the latter has been involved in the distribution of ransomware since the spring of 2019 and managed to launder millions of dollars obtained illegally, including through the Chatex platform.
According to analysts at Chainalysis, Chatex has received at least $77.5 million in Bitcoin equivalent since it began operations in the fall of 2018. More than $17 million of them were obtained by criminal means. Among the funds converted by Chatex were those that were involved in the transactions of the Hydra team, the Pyramid of Finico, QubitTech.ai, and others.
The US State Department continues its "hacker hunt" by announcing a $10 million reward for intelligence that will help identify the leaders of the REvil crime group.
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