U.S. Financial Crimes Enforcement Network Bashes Iran For Using Crypto To Bypass Sanctions

The U.S. Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) released a brief detailing how Iran is allegedly using a number of strategies to evade sanctions, which includes the use of cryptocurrencies.

While FinCEN admits the use of cryptocurrencies is “comparatively small” in Iran, it says “at least $3.8 million worth of bitcoin-denominated transactions per year” has come from the country since 2013.

Asking Exchanges To Be Vigilant

In the briefing, the regulator is firm that cryptocurrency use could be a way for individuals and entities to circumvent sanctions.

As a result, FinCEN asks crypto-related institutions to look over blockchain ledgers to see if there is activity tied to Iran. It warns “new virtual currency businesses may incorporate or operate in Iran with little notice or footprint.”

According to FinCEN, Iranian individuals and businesses can still access cryptocurrencies through a variety of exchanges, even though reports have said the Central Bank of Iran banned in-country institutions from handling cryptocurrencies.

The regulator reminds financial institutions and exchange providers they should be prepared to comply with sanctions requirements and general anti-money-laundering (AML) regulations.

Red Flags For Entities To Watch Out For

FinCEN writes in the report how entities in the financial sphere should take note of several ‘red flags’ that could signify deceptive activity by the Iranian regime.

Three of the points have to do with cryptocurrencies. The regulator says financial institutions (including cryptocurrency exchanges) should watch out for “login activity from entities in Iran,” especially in the case of cryptocurrency transfer.

FinCEN writes how details like IP addresses and time stamps can be useful evidence for authorities who are investigating illicit activity.

Additionally, it says to be on the lookout for unexplained transfers in and out of accounts, especially if they are combined with cryptocurrency exchange transactions.

Bitcoin Investors Reportedly Lose Millions in South African Exit Scam

Michael LaVere
  • VaultAge Solutions CEO Willie Breedt is being accused of making off with millions in investor bitcoin.
  • Breedt allegedly fled the country for Mozambique and has not communicated with investors since December 2019. 

South African cryptocurrency investors are accusing the CEO of VaultAge Solutions of stealing millions in crypto before going on the run. 

According to a report by AllAfrica, Willie Breedt, the CEO of cryptocurrency investment firm VaultAge Solutions, is presumed to be on the run after not making public communications since December 2019. The report claims Breedt was speculated to be staying near the town of Jeffrey’s Bay and that his whereabouts where being looked into by the country’s criminal investigation unit. 

However, South Africans who invested cryptocurrency with the now-defunct firm fear the CEO may have fled the country for Mozambique. 

Breedt is accused of stealing millions from bitcoin investors. The report claims VaultAge Solutions is not registered as a legitimate financial institution with the Financial Services Conduct Authority (FSCA), despite having more than 2000 investors. 

The report quoted investor Lettie Engelbrecht from Krugersdrop, 

We are pensioners and invested R200 000. From December until April, we received payments on the growth of our investment. Since then, we never got any money. We are desperate and living on a shoestring budget.

One South African investor reportedly had deposited more than R6 million ($342,000) with Breedt’s company. 

Breedt delivered a written reply to local outlet News24, explaining, 

I am busy attending to the commitments I have made to members. The commitment is to have all the initial capital paid back by 31 May.

Colonel Katlego Mogale of the Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation (DPCI) said authorities are investigating the case but cannot reveal any more information “at this stage.”

Featured Image Credit: Photo via Pixabay.com