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Criminal Whales Hold More Than $25 Billion Worth of Crypto (Chainalysis Report)

The blockchain data company – Chainalysis – claimed that criminal whales represent 3.7% of all cryptocurrency whales. Those bad actors collectively own over $25 billion worth of digital assets.

Almost 4% of Crypto Whales Are Criminals

Cryptocurrencies have many merits, and numerous experts maintain that they represent a financial revolution. However, bitcoin and the altcoins have their critics, too. These claim that drug traffickers, terrorists, and money-launderers employ such assets in their illicit activities.

In line with the aforementioned accusation, the New York-based blockchain analysis company – Chainalysis – identified 4,068 criminal cryptocurrency whales (3.7% of all) who collectively possess more than $25 billion worth of digital assets. The firm explained that every entity owns over $1 million in crypto.

It is worth noting that most whales received either a relatively small or substantial share of their total balance from illegal addresses. 1,374 got between 10% and 25% of their assets from illegitimate wallets, while 1,361 obtained between 90% and 100%.

Illicit funds received by criminal whales came from various sources. The Darknet (37,7%) ranked first, while scams (32.4%) held second place. Stolen funds, fraud shop, and ransomware completed the top five positions.

Chainalysis chart
Chainalysis chart, Source: Chainalysis

Additionally, Chainalysis analyzed where those criminals are located. It assigned UTC zones to the 768 whales whose wallets have enough activity to make a strong estimate. 2, 3, and 4 are the zones containing the most wrongdoers. Interestingly, this area includes Russia’s biggest cities – Moscow and Saint Petersburg. South Africa, Saudi Arabia, and Iran also fall into those time zones.

“Investigation of criminal whales represents a significant opportunity for government agencies around the world to continue their string of successful seizures and bring to justice the biggest beneficiaries of cryptocurrency-based crime,” Chainalysis concluded.

Criminals Laundered Billions Worth of Crypto in 2021

Not long ago, the blockchain analytics company disclosed that the total cryptocurrency value laundered in 2021 was $8.6 billion – 30% more than 2020.

Bad actors transferred nearly 17% of those assets to Decentralized Finance applications, up from 2% in the year before.

Chainalysis explained that these numbers account only for funds derived from “cryptocurrency-native crime,” including Darknet market sales or ransomware attacks:

“It’s more difficult to measure how much fiat currency derived from off-line crime – traditional drug trafficking, for example – is converted into cryptocurrency to be laundered. However, we know anecdotally this is happening.”


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