A study of the international interbank system SWIFT has shown that the role of cryptocurrencies in money laundering is often exaggerated, and fiat currencies are more often used for laundering.
Analysts write that money laundering is still one of the most serious problems for the global financial system. In the United States alone, according to the United Nations organization, from $ 800 billion to $ 2 trillion is laundered through fiat currencies annually. Cryptocurrencies occupy an extremely small share of this “market”.
“The detected cases of money laundering with the help of cryptocurrencies remain relatively small compared to the volume of money laundering by traditional methods,” the study emphasizes.
According to SWIFT, even money obtained through cyber attacks and extortion is rarely laundered with cryptocurrencies. More often traditional methods are used, such as cash companies or drug dealing.
Separately, the researchers identified the North Korean hacker group Lazarus, which uses cryptocurrencies to transfer money to their country. Also mentioned are groups of hackers in Europe who use stolen funds to buy prepaid cryptocurrency cards.
At the same time, analysts expect that the use of cryptocurrencies for money laundering will increase in the future:
“This is facilitated by the growth in the number of altcoins focused on ensuring complete anonymity of transactions.”
The researchers also noted the presence of various services, such as mixers, that allow you to hide the origin of cryptocurrencies. Anonymous online markets are also emerging, where cryptocurrencies obtained illegally can be used to buy real things, including watches or real estate.
Recently, researchers Elias Strehle of the Blockchain Research Lab and Lennar Ante of the University of Hamburg discovered a new way to launder money through bitcoin, which is that transactions with huge fees are processed by certain miners. After that, the miners withdraw the received commissions in any convenient way.