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Amid the currently inquiry, Bitzlato is once again gearing for relaunch and promises to return its customers’ funds.
Earlier this week on Monday, February 6, Bitzlato co-founder Anton Shkurenko was arrested at the request of Interpol. Shkurenko was facing money laundering allegations by US and EU authorities.
However, the latest report from CoinDesk notes that Shkurenko has now been released in a brief period. The Bitzlato co-founder informed CoinDesk that the Russian police had stopped him for an ID check. But they released him immediately after a short conversation.
Shkurenko declined to identify which unit of Russian law enforcement had detained him. However, he added that he had signed an obligation to appear when requested by investigators. But Shkurenko has received a no-detention warrant to avoid further arrests.
Just because he’s on the Interpol list, the Russian police detained him. But Shkurenko added that he’s unaware of any active cases against him in Russia. “Otherwise, I wouldn’t be speaking to you now,” he told CoinDesk on a Zoom call.
“I hope I convinced the prosecutor of my innocence,” he added. But he said that he cannot disclose further details regarding the ongoing investigation. following the investigation by several US and European agencies, Bitzlato announced its shutdown last month.
Crypto exchange Bitzlato has been facing allegations of processing $700 million worth of illicit funds. Besides, regulators like FinCEN have also expressed concerns about money laundering through the Bitzlato exchange.
In one of his earlier interviews, Shkurenko said Bitzlato doesn’t hold any bank accounts and all of its revenues come in crypto. Even before the enforcement action last month, Bitzlato had started migrating its infrastructure from Europe to Russia. Shkurenko added that most of the users’ assets are now in control of the team.
Gearing Up for Relaunch
As per reports earlier this month, Bitzlato is gearing up for a relaunch and is planning to refund users who lost money as a result of the law enforcement shutdown. It won’t take a lot of effort, “I could launch the exchange from my apartment. Two small servers are enough,” said Shkurenko.
Based out of Hong Kong and founded by two Russians, Bitzlato has been recently in the news following the FinCEN action. Europol had also arrested allegedly connected to Bitzlato in Europe. Besides, they also seized a server that hosted the exchange’s hot wallets along with a data center in France. Shkurenko said that the authorities have confiscated 18 million euros worth of crypto. It represents 35% of Bitzlato’s users’ funds.
The US Justice Department also stated that Bitzlato’s largest counterparty was the now-defunct darknet marketplace Hydra. Besides, the exchange had also received $15 million in ransomware proceeds.