Brandon Van Grack and Alex Iftimie spoke to Law360 about the U.S. Department of the Treasury’s unprecedented blacklisting of a cryptocurrency platform accused of helping cybercriminals convert funds into real world currency. This is the agency’s first labeling of a cryptocurrency as a “malicious cyber actor” which signals authorities’ strategy to focus their sanctions efforts on the wider ecosystem that enables attacks rather than on attackers themselves.
“Targeting the ransomware groups themselves would be a potential step, but would also create an obvious problem for many victims in that they would be unable to pay [without facing legal risks],” Brandon said.
He added: “It appears that the government wants to aggressively tackle this issue, but in a way that shows that they are understanding of the challenges that victim companies face. This was not the most aggressive sanctions action that we could have seen.”
Alex called [the] sanctions “a bellwether for whether U.S. sanctions are effective against cryptocurrency exchanges,” adding that if authorities are “successful in disrupting SUEX's and similar exchanges' operations, it will force criminals to platforms that are easier for law enforcement to track.”
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