Home Editor's Pick DOJ Accuses KuCoin of Allowing $5 Billion in Suspicious Funds to Flow Through Exchange

DOJ Accuses KuCoin of Allowing $5 Billion in Suspicious Funds to Flow Through Exchange

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The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) has brought charges against the Seychelles-based crypto exchange KuCoin and its founders, Chun Gan and Ke Tang, for alleged violations of anti-money laundering laws.

The indictment, announced by the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, Damian Williams, accuses KuCoin of operating without proper anti-money laundering protocols, allowing the platform to be used as a haven for illicit funds.

TLDR

U.S. Department of Justice has charged crypto exchange KuCoin and its founders, Chun Gan and Ke Tang, with violating anti-money laundering laws.
KuCoin allegedly failed to maintain an Anti-Money Laundering program and allowed over $5 billion of suspicious and criminal funds to flow through the exchange.
The exchange only introduced a limited KYC program in July 2023, following a criminal investigation.
Despite the legal action, CryptoQuant CEO Ki Young Ju claims KuCoin appears to be “fine” from an on-chain perspective, with sufficient reserves to process user withdrawals.
KuCoin’s native token (KCS) dropped by 5% after the announcement of the charges.

According to the DOJ, KuCoin deliberately concealed the fact that a substantial number of U.S. users were trading on its platform, taking advantage of its sizeable U.S. customer base to become one of the world’s largest cryptocurrency derivatives and spot exchanges. The exchange allegedly failed to implement basic anti-money laundering policies, resulting in over $5 billion of suspicious and criminal funds flowing through the platform.

Investigations revealed that KuCoin’s operations allowed the exchange to be used for laundering the proceeds of various illegal activities, including sanctions violations, darknet markets, malware, ransomware, and fraud schemes. The indictment also pointed to allegations that KuCoin indirectly received more than $3.2 million worth of cryptocurrency from Tornado Cash, a sanctioned crypto mixer.

Despite the severity of the charges, Ki Young Ju, founder and CEO of crypto analytics service CryptoQuant, has declared KuCoin “fine” from an on-chain perspective. Ju stated that the exchange appears to have sufficient reserves to process user withdrawals and does not seem to commingle customers’ funds with its own reserves.

On-chain wise, @kucoincom is fine.$BTC and $ETH withdrawals surged, driven mainly by retail users, with a small impact on the overall reserve.

They appear to not commingle customers’ funds and have sufficient reserves to process user withdrawals. pic.twitter.com/p4bJJpwnFJ

— Ki Young Ju (@ki_young_ju) March 27, 2024

However, the legal action against KuCoin has raised concerns among its users, leading to a surge in BTC and ETH withdrawals, primarily driven by retail users. The exchange’s native token, KCS, also dropped by 5% following the announcement of the charges.

The Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) has also filed a suit against KuCoin, alleging that the company failed to register as a futures commission merchant, swap execution facility, or designated contract market. The CFTC is seeking monetary penalties, trading and registration bans, and an injunction, while the DOJ is seeking forfeiture alongside criminal penalties.

Homeland Security Investigations Special Agent in Charge Darren McCormack described KuCoin as “an alleged multibillion-dollar criminal conspiracy,” emphasizing the severity of the charges against one of the world’s largest crypto exchanges.

The legal action against KuCoin comes just months after the DOJ, CFTC, and Treasury Department settled similar charges against Binance, the world’s largest crypto exchange by trading volume.

The charges highlight the increasing scrutiny faced by cryptocurrency exchanges and the need for proper compliance with anti-money laundering regulations.

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