A Russian national accused of processing cryptocurrency payments from ransomware attacks has pleaded guilty to money laundering in the United States. The man who was extradited from the Netherlands in mid-August, last year, will be sentenced in April.
Russian Crypto Launderer Pleads Guilty in US Court, May Get Up to 20 Years in Prison
An alleged money launderer from Russia has pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering in the United States. Denis Dubnikov, now 30, was arrested on Nov. 2, 2021 in Amsterdam, handed over by Dutch authorities on Aug. 16, 2022, and first appeared in federal court the next day.
The Russian and his accomplices have been laundering proceeds of Ryuk ransomware attacks on individuals and organizations in the U.S. and other countries between at least August 2018 and August 2021, according to court documents, quoted by the U.S. Attorney’s Office, District of Oregon. They made various financial transactions to conceal the source and ownership of the digital money.
“Specifically, in July 2019, a United States-based company paid a 250 bitcoin Ryuk ransom after a ransomware attack. On or about July 11, 2019, in Moscow, Russia, Dubnikov accepted 35 bitcoin from a co-conspirator in exchange for approximately $400,000,” detailed an announcement published Tuesday.
The cryptocurrency came directly from the ransom paid by the company. Dubnikov converted the bitcoin to tether and sent it to another individual, who eventually exchanged it for Chinese yuan. Dubnikov’s co-conspirators laundered more bitcoin and compensated him for his role.
Denis Dubnikov will be sentenced on April 11, 2023. The U.S. judicial authorities further noted that conspiracy to commit money laundering is punishable by up to 20 years in federal prison, three years’ supervised release, and a fine of $500,000.
Ryuk is a type of software that encrypts files on the targeted organization’s computers. First identified in 2018, the ransomware has been used against victims across the globe and from various sectors, including hospitals and healthcare providers in the United States. According to a recent report by blockchain forensics firm Chainalysis, revenue from ransomware attacks has decreased.
Do you think cases like Dubnikov’s will result in a further drop in ransomware payments? Share your thoughts on the subject in the comments section below.