US Treasury Department Sanctions Crypto Broker OTC Suex For Alleged Role In Facilitating Transactions For Ransomware Attacks

The United States Treasury Department has announced that it will impose sanctions on Czech and Russian company Suex OTC for allegedly all...

The United States Treasury Department has announced that it will impose sanctions on Czech and Russian company Suex OTC for allegedly allowing hackers to gain access to cryptocurrency sent as payment for ransomware attacks.

In a September 21 update, the Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control, or OFAC, added Suex OTC has a list of specially designated nationals for whom “assets are stranded and Americans are generally prohibited from doing business with them.” The government agency has listed Suex OTC’s Moscow and Prague offices, along with its website and 25 crypto addresses for Ether (ETH), Bitcoin (XBT) and Tether (USDT).

“Companies that facilitate ransomware payments to cyber actors on behalf of victims, including financial institutions, cyber insurance companies, and businesses involved in digital forensics and incident response, not only encourage future ransomware payment claims. , but may also risk violating OFAC regulations, ”the federal agency said. “The US government strongly discourages all private companies and citizens from paying ransom or extortion demands and recommends focusing on building defensive and resilient measures to prevent and protect against ransomware attacks. “

According to a Reuters report, Deputy Treasury Secretary Wally Adeyemo noted that “exchanges like Suex are critical to the ability of attackers to extract profits from ransomware attackers”, apparently targeting the cryptocurrency. He added that the sanctions were an attempt to “disrupt the illicit infrastructure using these attacks.”

The blockchain analytics company Chainalysis noted he had investigated Suex’s money laundering activities, claiming that many of his funds came from “illicit and high-risk sources”. The company’s investigation found that “tens of millions” of crypto payments came from addresses associated with various cybercrimes.

“In Bitcoin alone, Suex deposit addresses hosted on major exchanges have received over $ 160 million from ransomware players, scammers and darknet market operators,” Chainalysis said. “$ 13 million from ransomware operators […] $ 24 million from fraudulent cryptocurrency operators […] $ 20 million in darknet markets […] $ 50 million worth of cryptocurrency from addresses associated with BTC-e. “

Related: The Bitcoin Registry as a Secret Weapon in the Ransomware War

Ransomware attacks apparently part of President Joe Biden’s agenda after group of hackers broke through the network behind the Colonial Pipeline in the United States in May, forcing the company to pay more than $ 4 million in ransom. US food packaging company JBS was hit by a similar attack that reportedly cost the company $ 11 million.

Many American officials have crypto-currencies targeted as a medium of exchange in those ransom payments. Biden’s National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan said in june that crypto “sits at the heart of how these ransom transactions play out,” citing cyber attacks as a “national security priority” for the US government, especially for “critical infrastructure.”