Sentenced ‘Bitcoin czar’ named among Pandora Papers

The ICIJ’s report suggests the “Bitcoin czar” may have been a member of the Carbanak hacking group.

The International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) has identified a major crypto criminal among those exposed to have funneled funds into shadowy tax havens by its Pandora Papers.

According to an Oct. 3 ICIJ document summarizing the organization’s findings from its Pandora Papers investigation, offshore assets belonging to a so-called “Bitcoin czar sentenced for money laundering in connection with the largest cyberheist in history” were identified to be handled by one of the firms.

The Pandora Papers comprise a 2.94 terabyte data trove spanning 11.9 million records from 14 different offshore services providers. The documents claim to expose the hidden assets of more than 330 politicians and high-ranking public officials from 90 different jurisdictions, including 35 country leaders and more than 130 billionaires.

The ICIJ also notes that the assets of “bankers, big political donors, arms dealers, international criminals, pop stars, spy chiefs and sporting giants” can be identified among the documents.

While the “Bitcoin czar” identified in the Pandora Paper is not named directly, their sentencing in connection to the most significant cyber heists in history narrows the scope of possibility as to who the individual may be.

Reporters have described the operations of hacker group Carbanak as having been unrivaled in scale and value, with the cyber gang estimated to have stolen more than $1.24 billion from financial institutions and businesses located in more than 100 countries between 2013 and 2017.

While two of the six individuals have been sentenced over their role in Carbanak, the circumstances surrounding the 2018 arrest of the presumed leader of Carbanak  Denis Tokarenko (also known as Denis Katana) suggest he may be the culprit identified in the Pandora Papers.

According to a Bloomberg Businessweek article recounting Tokarenko’s March 2018 arrest, Spanish National Police found 15,000 Bitcoin worth $162 million at the time in the hacker’s possession.

Carlos Yuste, the chief inspector of the Spanish National Police’s cybercrime center, told the publication that Tokarenko had also used a Bitcoin mining operation purchased in China to launder his stolen funds into BTC.

Many analysts have also described the 2016 Bangladesh Bank cyber heist in which hackers stole nearly $1 billion from a Federal Reserve Bank of New York account owned by the Bangladeshi central bank as the largest virtual theft in the history.

Related: EU removes this crypto hotspot from tax haven blacklist, clearing path for further adoption

However, former Rizal Commercial Banking Corporation employee Maia Santos Deguito is the only individual to have been sentenced over the cyber heist to date, and a Cointelegraph investigation has not provided any sources to associate Deguito with crypto assets.

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