Brazilian Police Seize $33M in Crypto Money Laundering Probe

23 July 2021

Brazil’s civil police seized R$172 million ($33 million in U.S. dollars) amid an investigation into money laundering carried out through crypto exchanges. 

During an operation known as “Exchange” that took place in Sao Paulo and Diadema, Brazilian police carried out six search warrants, after which the Brazilian judiciary authorized freezing accounts and seizing assets from two individuals and 17 companies, according to an official statement that did not name them.

The investigation found that crypto exchanges acquired and sold bitcoin to fictitious companies fabricated to facilitate their creators’ access to the banking system. 

In a five-month period, one of the exchanges transacted $1.93 million in digital assets with six bogus companies, while eight other bogus companies acquired $2.9 million in cryptocurrencies in the same period, the police said. 

The exchanges did not verify the legitimacy of the entities they dealt with or the transactions’ origin, the Brazilian police said, adding that the exchanges knowingly operated on behalf of a criminal organization dedicated to laundering money through cryptocurrencies. 

According to the investigation, money was sent to offshore companies and subsequently repatriated by simulating sales or service provision transactions. 

Preliminary investigations indicated that the companies conducted large transactions among themselves and then routed money to intermediaries, who were responsible for the acquisition of digital assets and the delivery of a hash code to their clients. 

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