The data showed that from 2017 to 2022, buyers and sellers on the world’s largest darknet drugs market, a Russian-language site called Hydra, used Binance to make and receive crypto payments worth $780 million. Binance never blocked or queried any of her payments. Reuters reviewed detailed data about Binance client transactions on “darknet” sites – marketplaces for narcotics, weapons and other illegal items. On several darknet forums that Reuters reviewed, over 20 users wrote about buying Monero on Binance to purchase illegal drugs. The Justice Department, describing Hydra as “the world’s largest and longest-running darknet market,” said the site had received in total around $5.2 billion in cryptocurrency. Several friends who used Hydra told her Binance was the safest way to pay dealers, Alexandra told Reuters, speaking on condition she be identified only with her first name. Reuters’ new reporting following the April article shows that many people who signed up to Binance in Russia weren’t using it for trading. Ng testified to the court that a crypto trading partner, who he knew online only by the username MoneyTree, deposited the bitcoin in his Binance accounts. According to a group chat among Binance staff, the compliance team sometimes approved accounts with inadequate documentation.

Hillmann said Binance fully cooperated with requests received from Slovakian authorities and helped them to identify the relevant accounts. Binance has continued to provide limited services in Russia since the country’s invasion of Ukraine this year, despite requests from the government in Kyiv for exchanges to ban Russian users as part of efforts to isolate Russia financially. Musk didn’t respond to requests for comment. He didn’t provide further details. During a 2020 video call with staff, a recording of which Reuters reviewed, Zhao said privacy was part of people’s “financial freedom.” He didn’t mention Monero, but said Binance had funded other privacy coin projects. After another heist in March this year, when Lazarus stole over $600 million from an online game involving cryptocurrencies, Zhao said North Korean hackers had transferred an unspecified amount of the funds to Binance. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen and European Central Bank President Christine Lagarde, voice concern over the illegal use of cryptocurrencies, the trade demonstrates how criminals have turned to the technology to launder dirty money. Hillmann replied that “what’s important to note is not where the funds come from – as crypto deposits cannot be blocked – but what we do after the funds are deposited.” He said Binance uses transaction monitoring and risk assessments to “ensure that any illegal funds are tracked, frozen, recovered and/or returned to their rightful owner.” Binance is working closely with law enforcement to dismantle criminal networks using cryptocurrencies, including in Russia, he said.

First and foremost, the platform uses two-factor authentication for any log-in attempt. Coinbase Pro, formerly known as GDAX, is a US-based cryptocurrency exchange launched in 2015. As a sister platform to the popular Coinbase exchange, Coinbase Pro offers more advanced trading features for experienced users. The priority, he said, was to ensure Binance overtook larger cryptocurrency exchanges and fended off competition from smaller rivals. Some of them used fake personal information to open Binance accounts, she said, https://www.youtube.com/@Coin_universe but she uploaded a copy of her passport. The records, reviewed by Reuters, showed the only personal information Binance held on the account holders was their email addresses, many of which were based on misspelt well-known names, such as “bejaminfranklin,” the American founding father, and “garathbale,” the Welsh soccer player. In mid-2019, his Poloniex account was frozen after it was flagged for “high risk exposure” to money laundering due to Monero withdrawals totalling over $1 million, according to a summary filed with the court. Ng’s Monero trading had earlier raised alarms at another crypto exchange called Poloniex, based in the United States, where he also had an account. For the past five years, Binance has allowed traders on its platform to buy and sell a coin called Monero, a cryptocurrency that offers users anonymity.

Reuters reporting also reveals for the first time how North Korea’s Lazarus used Binance to launder some of the cryptocurrency stolen from Eterbase. Current and former police officials in five countries told Reuters that criminal groups were among Binance’s growing customer base in recent years. Among the countries Zhao sought to expand in was Russia, which Binance described in a 2018 blog as a major market due to its “hyperactive” crypto community. “Do everything to increase our market share, and nothing else,” Zhao wrote. Nothing states that GLBSE can’t be shutdown. Law enforcement agencies in Europe and the United States have warned that Monero’s anonymity makes it a potential tool for money launderers. For this article, Reuters interviewed law enforcement officials, researchers, and crime victims in a dozen countries, including in Europe and the United States, to assess the enduring impact of past gaps in Binance’s anti-money laundering rules. As reported by Reuters in its January investigation, an internal document shows that Binance was aware of the risk of illegal finance in Russia.

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