Between 2017 and 2021, a record-breaking $2.35 billion in money laundering occurred through the world’s largest crypto exchange by trading volume, Binance, according to Reuters.
Reuters claims that the world’s biggest illicit drug market — the Russian-language Hydra — used Binance for $780 million in crypto payments. The Department of Justice claims that 80% of crypto transactions happening for illicit drugs was happening on the site at the time, claiming that since 2015 it had gotten $5.2 billion as a result.
"This is the fastest and cheapest way I've tried," according to a user quoted by Reuters. The popularity of Binance owed in large part to its ability to conceal key identity identifiers during the registration process.
“During the days I used drugs, you had to know someone, at least,” said in order to obtain narcotics," said Aleksey Lakhov, a director at Russian charity foundation Humanitarian Action.
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Reuters also says that the North Korean cyber criminal group Lazarus laundered $5.4 million through Binance in 2020. This crypto was stolen from Eterbase, a Slovakian crypto exchange. "Binance had no idea who was moving money through their exchange," said Eterbase co-founder Robert Auxt.
In September 2020, Binance's CEO Changpeng Zhao wrote on Twitter that the company would "do what we can to assist.”
However, Reuters claims that Binance failed to work with law enforcement and that Eterbase was forced to file for bankruptcy and close its crypto exchange.
Binance, however, disputes the allegations in the report and claims it's merely a "woefully misinformed op-ed."