Money laundering with bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies is increasingly centralized in few addresses and entities. This was revealed by a report from the blockchain research firm Chainalysis, focused on illicit activities associated with cryptocurrencies during the year 2020.
Signature records show a total of close to 2,250 million dollars in illicit funds laundered during 2020 with bitcoin or other cryptocurrencies, distributed in almost 1.5 million addresses.
A small group of just under 2,000 addresses received 75% of the funds associated with illicit activities in 2020. Of those addresses, in only 270 more than 1,300 million dollars were concentrated, while 500 million dollars were concentrated in just 24 deposit addresses, exposes the research published a few days ago.
Only 270 addresses received a total of 1.3 billion dollars from illicit activities. Source: Chainalysis.
While during 2020 there was 55% of the funds destined to just 270 addresses, in 2019 those largest addresses received only 36% of the illicit funds during that year. The increase is clearly seen in one of the graphs included in the report.
“We believe that the growing concentration of deposit addresses receiving illicit cryptocurrencies reflects the growing reliance of cybercriminals on a small group of OTC brokers and other nested services that specialize in money laundering,” explains Chainalysis.
Increased concentration of illicit funds in fewer directions between 2019 and 2020. Source: Chainalysis.
Mainly, illicit funds destination addresses belong to large exchanges of bitcoin and cryptocurrencies, through which criminals pass the money obtained to fiat or other cryptocurrencies. But we also see gambling sites, platforms in “high-risk jurisdictions” or services for mixing or obfuscating transactions with cryptocurrencies involved in the process.
Are Bitcoin and cryptocurrencies the preferred tool for criminals?
The Chainalysis report highlights that, despite the high volume of money received that came from illicit activities, receiving addresses moved much more money from legal operations.
“Although individually and collectively they can facilitate a great deal of money laundering, legitimate activity also accounts for a significant portion of the total transaction volume for many of these deposit addresses, especially those that received less than $ 25 million in crypto from illicit addresses. ”.
The volume of cryptocurrencies from criminal activities only represents 10% of the funds received by many of the addresses tracked in the study. “This suggests that the money laundering provided by these addresses could simply be inadvertent and due to deficiencies in the compliance programs of the nested services that control them,” the researchers note.
As CriptoNoticias recently reported, the debate on the use of bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies for crime, compared to fiat money, is still very much alive today.
Both the president of the European Central Bank, Christine Lagarde; like Janet Yellen, the new Secretary of the Treasury of the United States, point to an iron regulation of Bitcoin. Mainly, alleging its use as a tool for large-scale money laundering.
However, recent cases show how widely regulated banking entities from all types of jurisdictions are constantly used as a vehicle to legitimize capital from all kinds of criminal activities.
And although bitcoin is targeted in high places, there are those who have not hesitated to point to bankers and their institutions as a central part of the problem. Among them, Senator Sherrod Brown, a member of the US Senate Banking Committee, stands out.
During an interview reviewed by this medium, Brown pointed out that “if some bankers go to jail, those things will stop happening,” referring to the FinCEN Files case, an investigation that exposed the involvement of banks around the world in money laundering. of billions of dollars.