The U.S. Treasury Department has issued sanctions against 32 entities and individuals it said were involved in election interfering. The department alleged that digital currencies were extensively used to facilitate payments between some of the entities, with one in particular processing 31,000 transactions worth over $3 million.
In its press release, Treasury accused the Russian government of influencing U.S. voters and spreading misinformation about U.S. political candidates, processes and institutions. Russia allegedly used a system of government officials, disinformation outlets and companies in its efforts.
Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen remarked, “Treasury will target Russian leaders, officials, intelligence services, and their proxies that attempt to interfere in the U.S. electoral process or subvert U.S. democracy. This is the start of a new U.S. campaign against Russian malign behavior.”
Several of the entities the Treasury issued sanctions against have been allegedly using digital currencies to make payments. One of these is Secondeye Solutions, a company based in Pakistan that sold fake KYC documents to the Internet Research Agency (IRA), a Russian organization accused of election interference and other online crimes.
According to an accompanying report by Chainalysis, whose analytics tools the U.S. government used to track the payments, Secondeye has been hiding in plain sight. It has been offering falsified verification documents for people seeking to sign up on fintech and digital currency platforms. As per the DoJ, Secondeye sold several fake verification documents to IRA operatives.
Since 2013, Secondeye has received over $2.5 million worth of digital currencies in over 31,000 transactions, Chainalysis claims. “That works out to roughly $80 per transaction, which fits the pricing listed on its website,” it adds.
Secondeye still has one active BTC address at a major exchange that has received over $1.3 million, Chainalysis revealed.
Other entities that have received payments in digital currencies which the U.S. Treasury accuses of election interfering are SouthFront, the Association for Free Research and International Cooperation (AFRIC) and Mujtaba Ali Raza, the founder of Secondeye.
Treasury noted, “As a result of today’s designations, all property and interests in property of these targets that are subject to U.S. jurisdiction are blocked, and U.S. persons are generally prohibited from engaging in transactions with them. In addition, financial institutions and other persons that engage in certain transactions or activities with the sanctioned entities and individuals may expose themselves to secondary sanctions or be subject to an enforcement action.”
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