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US Treasury sanctions cryptocurrency exchange SUEX to counter alleged ransomware attacks

US Treasury sanctions cryptocurrency exchange SUEX to counter alleged ransomware attacks
The US government has announced sanctions against a cryptocurrency brokerage which American officials claim has been used to process illicit transactions for ransomware attackers.

On Tuesday, the Biden administration took aim at the currency exchange SUEX OTC “for its part in facilitating financial transactions for ransomware actors.” In a statement, the US Treasury claimed the platform has facilitated transactions involving illicit proceeds from at least eight different types of ransomware. They added that “analysis” of SUEX OTC’s known processed transactions suggests around 40% of them concern illicit actors.

Cryptocurrency-tracking firm Chainalysis said in a post on Tuesday that SUEX is among the most active platforms in handling illicit funds obtained through cybercrime and hacking attacks, according to its investigations. 

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SUEX is legally registered in the Czech Republic, but while it reportedly has no known physical presence there, it has branches in Moscow and St. Petersburg, according to Chainalysis.

The aim of the sanctions is to cripple the “financial enablers” of ransomware gangs, Deputy Treasury Secretary Wally Adeyemo told reporters in a press conference previewing the announcement. “Today’s action is a signal of our intention to expose and disrupt the illicit infrastructure using these attacks,” he added. 

While the Treasury Department has previously sanctioned ransomware developers and distributors, Tuesday’s move is the first such designation against a cryptocurrency exchange. It has been executed with assistance from the FBI, the statement added.

Ransomware attacks have become increasingly costly for victims in recent years. The Treasury said 2020 was the most expensive yet on record, as ransom payments reportedly amounted to more than $400 million.

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