Bitzlato co-founder released from brief arrest and questioning: Report

Local Russian media informed on Monday that Bitzlato co-founder Anton Shkurenko was detained in Moscow on February 6 at the request of Interpol. However, according to a February 10 CoinDesk report, Shkurenko was stopped and detained by local police for an identity check and released shortly thereafter.

Shkurenko said that he does not appear in any criminal cases in Russia, while not disclosing the details of the investigation:

“I hope I have convinced the prosecutor of my innocence.”

He did not specify which law enforcement unit detained him, but did mention that he had signed a contract to appear when and if investigators so required. Thus, Shkurenko received an arrest warrant to avoid future arrests.

At the time of his arrest, Shkurenko testified that he was a “technical consultant” to Bitzlato. However, he reportedly had keys to the exchange’s cryptocurrency wallets, though they have since been passed on to other members of the team.

Bitzlato still employs about 100 employees, despite recent crackdowns from global authorities. Shkurenko told CoinDesk that a restart of the Russian-based exchange could happen in the near future.

“I could run the exchange from my apartment.”

According to the co-founder, the team holds most of its users’ funds. Shkurenko said he could resume work “quickly”.

Crypto cleanup: how much enforcement is too much?

This follows a series of updates regarding the operational status of Bitzlato. On January 18, US authorities took action against the exchange, accusing it of money laundering and allegedly circumventing sanctions against Russia.

According to the US Department of Justice, the exchange processed about $700 million in illicit funds.

As the investigation against the exchange continues, various well-known companies in the crypto space have been called in to contact Bitzlato. One of them is Binance, named by the US Financial Crime Enforcement Network as the top recipient of bitcoin (BTC) from the exchange.

LocalBitcoins, another cryptocurrency platform, closed on February 9 and was also linked to Bitzlato as a major sender of BTC.

On Jan. 23, Europol revealed that it had confiscated $19.5 million in crypto as part of an enforcement action against Bitzlato. A little over a week later, on February 2, the Spanish authorities detained the CEO of the exchange.

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