Reports that prosecutors in the Darnytskyi District of Kyiv, Ukraine, have recently busted a gang of over-the-counter (OTC) crypto brokers – who allowed individuals in Russia and areas under Russian control to swap silver, cash, and land for cryptoassets – appear to be somewhat wide of the mark.
Earlier this week, Ukrainian prosecutors published an official release explaining that a gang had attempted to “allow users from the Russian Federation, as well as residents of the so-called Donetsk and Luhansk people’s republics, to convert cash and non-cash funds into cryptocurrency without paying taxes.”
The prosecutors explained that they had seized some USD 1.7m worth of cash – a roughly equal mix of hryvnia, USD, and euros. They also confiscated 830kg of silver bars, multiple mobile phones, and several USB flash drives.
In addition, the prosecutors said they had seized six plots of land with a “total area of over six hectares,” as well as three apartments “with a total area of 380sqm.” These properties “belong to the participants in the criminal proceedings, the prosecutors stated.
All of the above appears to be true. The only problem is, it actually seems to have happened well over a year ago. In April 2021, the Security Service of Ukraine (SSU) released an almost identical report, which also featured a YouTube video showing officers processing the haul.
The SSU report also featured the exact same images that were included in the prosecution’s report – proof that the incident in question indeed took place over a year ago.
The prosecution service said unnamed individuals involved had been charged with tax evasion, the attempted laundering of property obtained through crime, and fraud, and that all the deals involved cryptoassets.
The assets, officers said, were worth a combined total of around USD 3.4m and were found during searches conducted in Kyiv and Kharkiv. The latter city is currently one of the epicenters of the current military conflict and is reportedly under heavy attack from Russian forces.
One media outlet claimed that the prosecution’s “announcement” had “received little notice in the West.” As the story is clearly over a year old, perhaps it is not hard to understand why.