In brief

  • Investigators in Russia have encountered some cases where cryptocurrencies were used to pay for a contract killing.
  • The use of crypto makes it harder to identify the client of such an arrangement.
  • Anti-money laundering amendments "are long overdue" in Russia, experts noted.

Contract killers in Russia have accepted cryptocurrencies for their services, Konstantin Komarda, head of the Investigative Committee’s cybercrimes department, told local news outlet TASS today.

“For example, in cases of contract killings, it was established that one of the cryptocurrencies was used as a means of payment,” he noted.

Komarda said that the agency is currently investigating several cases against “professional cybercriminals” who are IT experts, “feel confident in the cyber environment,” carefully plan their crimes, and use various tools—including cryptocurrencies and VPN services—to remain anonymous.

The Finance Ministry of Russia has submitted new amendments to its crypto law that could make Bitcoin mining financially meaningless.
Bitcoin in Russia. Image: Shutterstock.

According to him, the use of cryptocurrencies makes it much harder for law enforcement agencies to identify clients who order illegal services or goods. For example, such transactions are usually executed through 15–20 different anonymous crypto wallets “where they are carefully washed out among tens of thousands of other transactions” before reaching the final recipient.

Speaking to Decrypt, Nikita Soshnikov, lawyer and director of crypto exchange Alfacash, noted that such statements, especially from high-ranking officials, certainly have some grounds. However, they are usually voiced to negatively characterize cryptocurrencies as an emerging part of the financial system.

“I think that cash is still the absolute leader as a means of settlement in any illegal business and corruption schemes, in fact, due to the same characteristics—anonymity, lack of a financial trace, the difficulty of identifying the ultimate beneficiary,” Soshnikov told Decrypt, adding, “But we don’t see any serious discussions about limiting the use of cash by individuals, as well about proper identification of users in the crypto industry.”

Thus, amendments to the legislation that can help combat money laundering “are long overdue," he summarized.

As Decrypt reported, blockchain data company Chainalysis has recently asserted that Bitcoin may have been used to finance the recent pro-Trump Capitol Hill riot. But the firm has also shown how little cryptocurrency is used in general for nefarious activities such as buying drugs on the dark web.