The US Department of Treasury has said that it will be imposing sanctions on the crypto exchange platform Chatex and its support network for allowing ransomware transactions. Attorney General Merrick Garland mentioned in a press conference that a notorious Ukrainian cybercriminal, Vasinsky, had been indicted by the Justice Department for hacking personal computers, as well as for being involved in a conspiracy to commit money laundering by requiring ransom payments.
The Department’s advisory update from November 8th put Chatex to the list of organizations sanctioned by the United States government, alongside IZIBITS OU, Chatextech SIA, and Hightrade Finance. The company allegedly has strong ties with Russian and Czech Republic company Suex OTC, which the Department of Treasury also sanctioned just two months ago.
The organization has been associated with numerous furtive activities; namely darknet markets, high-risk exchanges, and ransomware, according to the U.S. Department of the OFAC (Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control). In fact, more than half of Chatex’s transactions are linked to ransomware groups.
According to the Department of Homeland Security, ransomware activities are highly profitable today majorly because of unprincipled organizations like Chatex, which launder and cash-out proceeds for cybercriminals.
OFAC said: “The Treasury will continue to deter further actions against the American people by using all available tools to disrupt malicious cyber actors, block criminal proceeds, and disrupt malicious cyber actors.”
The Department also added in the same announcement that Yaroslav Vasinskyi, a Ukrainian national, and Yevgeniy Polyanin, a Russian national, were part of the attackers engaged in ransomware attacks against numerous U.S. government organizations and private associations. Vasinskyi was arrested by Polish authorities last month and is expected to be deported to the United States soon.
Meanwhile, an indictment against Polyanin for 3000 different ransomware attacks that resulted in the theft of $6.1 million in crypto was announced by the Justice Department for which he is allegedly responsible. Any U.S. resident caught making transactions with either Chatex, Vasinskyi, Polyanin or anyone associated with the cybercriminals will be facing enforcement actions or sanctions as a $10 million bounty was offered by the State Department for any information about the location of the key members of Sodinokibi/REvil ransomware group can be provided. It is also planning to offer a $5 million bounty to anyone who can arrest or convict hackers that will try to launch ransomware attacks in the future.