Suex sanctioned by the US Treasury Department

Additional sanctions could be imposed on “financial institutions, cyber insurance organizations, and companies involved in digital forensics and incident response” that aided ransomware payments, the government agency hinted.

The US Department of the Treasury announced that it will sanction Suex OTC, a company based in the Czech Republic and Russia, for allegedly allowing hackers to access cryptocurrencies supplied as payment for ransomware attacks.

Suex OTC was added to the Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control’s, or OFAC’s, list of Specially Designated Nationals, whose “assets are frozen and US individuals are usually forbidden from dealing with them,” in a Sept. 21 advisory update. Suex OTC’s offices in Moscow and Prague, as well as its website and 25 cryptocurrency addresses for Ether (ETH), Bitcoin (XBT), and Tether (USDT), were listed by the federal agency (USDT).

“Companies that facilitate ransomware payments to cyber actors on behalf of victims, including financial institutions, cyber insurance firms, and digital forensics and incident response firms, not only encourage future ransomware payment demands but also risk violating OFAC regulations,” the federal agency stated. “The United States government strongly discourages any private businesses and persons from paying ransom or extortion demands and instead suggests bolstering defensive and resilience measures to avoid and protect against ransomware attacks.”

According to Reuters, Treasury Deputy Secretary Wally Adeyemo stated that “exchanges like Suex are vital to attackers’ ability to collect earnings from ransomware attackers,” implying that bitcoin was being targeted. He continued by stating that the sanctions were intended to “destroy the criminal infrastructure” through these strikes.

Chainalysis, a blockchain analytics business, stated it was investigating Suex’s money laundering activities, stating that a large portion of its funding came from “illicit and high-risk sources.” According to the firm’s study, “tens of millions” of dollars worth of cryptocurrency payments originated from addresses associated with various cybercrimes.

“Suex’s deposit addresses hosted on prominent exchanges have collected over $160 million in Bitcoin from ransomware attackers, scammers, and darknet market operators,” Chainalysis reported. “Ransomware operators have extorted $13 million […] 24 million dollars from bitcoin scammers […] Twenty-five million dollars from darknet markets […] $50 million in cryptocurrencies from BTC-e-associated addresses.”

President Joe Biden’s agenda appears to have included ransomware assaults when a group of hackers entered the network behind the Colonial Pipeline in the United States in May, purportedly forcing the corporation to pay a ransom of more than $4 million. JBS, a food packaging company based in the United States, was the victim of a similar attack that reportedly cost the company $11 million.

Numerous officials in the United States have targeted cryptocurrency as a means of exchange for these ransom payments. Jake Sullivan, Biden’s national security adviser, stated in June that crypto “underpins how these ransom transactions are carried out,” identifying cyberattacks as a “national security priority” for the US government, particularly for “vital infrastructure.”

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