Bitfinex, one of the world’s largest cryptocurrency exchanges, has been implicated in a Polish investigation into the Columbian drug cartel’s money laundering operation, local media outlets report.
Last week, authorities in Poland seized 1.27 billion Polish zlotys (~$371 million) from bank accounts belonging to two companies suspected of laundering money for drug cartels in Columbia.
The news was first reported by Polish media outlet TVP Info, which said that the two Pruszków-registered companies — referred to as “company M” and “company C” — were initially linked to the illicit activities because one of them allegedly defrauded the Belgian Ministry of Foreign Affairs for more than €400,000 while the ministry was constructing an embassy in the Democratic Republic of Congo. The report further stated that the companies were connected to an unnamed cryptocurrency exchange.
However, in a separate report, Polish tech blog Spider’s Web pointed the finger directly at Bitfinex, citing “unofficial information” and noting that the bank in question — Skierniewice’s Cooperative Bank — is the same institution to which Bitfinex directed customers to for exchange-related deposits as recently as 2017.
Bitfinex’s difficulties acquiring a stable banking partner have been well-documented, though Dutch banking group ING recently confirmed that the exchange operator is a client.
Meanwhile, an unidentified user on a Polish Bitcoin forum claimed that he was recently interrogated by Polish law enforcement officials in connection with a transaction from Crypto sp z o.o, whose parent company Crypto Capital Corp. is believed to be a Bitfinex-owned shell company.
No charges had been filed at press time, and the reports indicated that prosecutors were coordinating with both Europol and Interpol due to the international nature of the allegations.
Bitfinex did not immediately respond to a request for comment, but a spokesperson told FinanceMagnates that it is aware of the allegations but believes that they are untrue.
“Bitfinex can confirm that it is aware of the current allegations that have been reported by Polish media over the past several hours,” the spokesperson said. “Bitfinex believes that these allegations are untrue and Bitfinex customers and operations are unaffected by false rumors.”
This story is developing.
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Last modified: May 20, 2020 8:53 PM UTC