DOJ Busts Crypto Exchange Bitzlato, Arrests Russian Co-Founder

• US, France and the Treasury Department have shut down the Bitzlato cryptocurrency exchange and arrested its Russian co-founder, Anatoly Legkodymov, in Miami.
• The DOJ accused Bitzlato of laundering criminal proceeds from darknet markets and ransomware attacks.
• Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco claimed that this operation was a “significant blow to the crypto crime ecosystem”.

US and French law enforcement have shut down the cryptocurrency exchange Bitzlato, arresting its Russian co-founder, Anatoly Legkodymov, in Miami. This is part of an “international cryptocurrency enforcement action”, according to the US Department of Justice (DOJ).

The DOJ alleged that Legkodymov operated the exchange as a “high-tech financial hub that, in his own words, catered to ‘known crooks’”. Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco highlighted that Bitzlato was a “crucial financial resource” for Hydra, the largest darknet market with Russian roots, which was shut down in April last year by the German police with the support of US agencies.

Monaco claimed that the DOJ is dealing a “significant blow to the crypto crime ecosystem”. The US Treasury Department also played a role in this operation, as well as the French law enforcement.

The Bitzlato platform had previously claimed that it was hacked. However, the DOJ’s allegations suggested that the exchange was handling illicit funds worth hundreds of millions of dollars.

The DOJ also highlighted the importance of international law enforcement cooperation in tackling crypto crime. Monaco noted that the DOJ is “committed to identifying, apprehending, and prosecuting criminals who use cryptocurrency to facilitate their criminal activities”.

This is not the first time that the DOJ has gone after crypto criminals. In the past, the DOJ has busted several crypto-related money laundering operations, including a 2019 case involving the now-defunct BTC-e exchange.

In conclusion, the US and French law enforcement’s enforcement action against Bitzlato and its Russian co-founder is yet another example of the increasing focus the authorities are placing on crypto-related crime. The DOJ is sending a clear message that it is committed to cracking down on crypto crime and will continue to pursue those who facilitate it.

Mastercard & Polygon Team Up to Empower Emerging Artists in Web3 Ecosystem

• Mastercard has partnered with Polygon, an Ethereum scaling platform, to introduce five emerging artists to Web3 technology.
• The Mastercard artist accelerator program will use the Polygon network to teach the selected artists how to mint their own NFTs, be present in metaverse-based concerts, and more.
• Autonomy and freedom are the biggest goals of the program, as it seeks to empower artists to grow their fan engagement and make a living on their own terms.

Mastercard, one of the world’s largest payments companies, has just announced a new partnership with the Ethereum scaling platform, Polygon. The collaboration between the two companies is set to introduce five different emerging artists, including singers, DJs, musicians, and producers, to the possibilities that Web3 technology can bring.

As part of the project, Mastercard has created an artist accelerator program that will use Polygon’s network to teach the selected artists a series of activities that will allow them to cut the middleman and gain more autonomy and freedom. This includes the ability to mint their own NFT (non-fungible tokens) collections to grow their online fan engagement, and be present in metaverse-based concerts. As Ryan Watts, CEO of Polygon Studios, stated: “Web3 has the potential to empower a new type of artist that can grow a fanbase, make a living, and introduce novel mediums for self-expression and connection on their own terms.”

The importance of the partnership between Mastercard and Polygon is that it is seeking to make it easier for emerging artists to make a living through their art. This is especially important in a time where the music industry has been heavily impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, with many concerts and shows canceled due to health guidelines.

The collaboration between Mastercard and Polygon is not a surprise as the company has had a long-standing relationship with music. It is currently an official sponsor of the Grammys and even launched its own record label in 2022.

The Mastercard artist accelerator program is a great way to empower emerging artists and help them become autonomous and independent. It is a great step forward in the world of Web3 technology, and will surely help artists grow their fan engagement and make a living on their own terms.