The U.S. Treasury Department sanctioned crypto exchange Chatex for its alleged involvement in ransomware operations, the federal agency said in a Monday press release.
It is the second time that the U.S. Treasury Department has sanctioned a crypto exchange. Chatex “has facilitated transactions for multiple ransomware variants” and has provided “material support” to crypto over-the-counter exchange Suex, which is also associated with ransomware, the press release said.
In September, Suex was sanctioned by the Treasury Department for ransomware activities.
The Biden administration has launched a crackdown on ransomware and is trying to convince other governments to follow its lead. Crypto intelligence firm Chainalysis estimates that North American crypto addresses sent $131 million to ransomware-linked addresses between July 2020 and June 2021, more than double what Western Europe, the second hardest-hit region, sent.
The Treasury’s Office of Foreign Asset Control (OFAC) added Chatex to its “Specially Designated Nationals” list. Another three entities associated with Chatex were also added to the blacklist, including Izibits OU, Chatextech SIA and Hightrade Finance Ltd.
The list covers individuals working for governments involved in terrorism or drug trafficking, according to the Treasury Department. Being on the list means the individuals’ assets are blocked and U.S. citizens are barred from doing business with them.
Suex and Chatex share a co-founder, Egor Petukhovsky, and at one point, a holding company, Estonia-based Izibits OU, according to TRM Labs.
A separate Treasury Department announcement mentioned about 30 sanctioned crypto wallet addresses associated with Chatex.
Chatex operates a crypto exchange and wallet through a Telegram messaging bot.