- Tether has conducted the biggest USDT freeze in history.
- The company blacklisted hundreds of millions of dollars tied to an international crime syndicate.
- The freeze was a result of a joint investigation.
USDT stablecoin issuer Tether has coordinated one of the largest-ever freezes in the history of crypto, blacklisting hundreds of millions of dollars tied to a Southeast Asia-based international human trafficking syndicate responsible for a global “pig butchering” romance scam.
On November 20, Tether announced that it had “proactively and voluntarily” frozen the funds following a joint investigation that involved the company, crypto exchange OKX, and the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ).
Tether Conducts Largest-Ever USDT Freeze
Using tools from blockchain analysis firm Chainalysis to follow transaction trails on the blockchain, Tether, OKX, and the DOJ conducted a month-long investigation that alerted U.S. law enforcement agencies to the whereabouts of 225 million USDT tokens linked to the syndicate.
Following the revelation, the U.S. Secret Service initiated a freeze request, to which Tether obliged.
According to the announcement, while the frozen wallets are on the secondary market and are not associated with Tether’s customers, lawful wallets that might have been captured in the operation will be unfrozen if the owners liaise with Tether and law enforcement.
Tether’s move to freeze the illicit funds underscores industry-wide calls for crypto-focused firms to take proactive steps to counter specific crimes in the digital assets sector. By working together, Tether, OKX, and the DOJ have demonstrated how proactive engagement can deter crypto vices.
Winning the Fight Against Crypto Crimes as a Team
Commenting on the operation, Tether CEO Paolo Ardoino noted that leveraging technology and existing relationships is instrumental in addressing crypto-fueled illicit activities and upholding the highest integrity standards in the industry.
OKX Chief Innovation Officer Jason Lau also shared similar sentiments.
“Collaborating with industry stakeholders, including law enforcement agencies, is a key tenet of our approach to building trust and serving the public good as a leader in the crypto industry.” Lau stated.
Tether reiterated that the company will continue to implement Know Your Customer (KYC) and Anti-Money Laundering (AML) protocols while collaborating with global law enforcement to investigate suspicious transactions in the secondary market.
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