The efforts of Tether, the largest issuer of stablecoin in the crypto market, continue as it announced yesterday via a blog post that it has blocked the flow of 873,000 USDT earmarked for financing terrorist activities for the wars in Ukraine and Israel.
After last week’s news that featured cryptocurrency exchange Binance and its work alongside Israeli police to freeze several Hamas-linked accounts, now it is Tether’s turn.
In an operation that was “technically” simple, but concretely complex due to the large number of searches and monitoring that the stablecoin provider and its team had to endure, as many as 32 addresses were blocked, all of which were involved in illicit activities within the Ukrainian borders and the Holy Land.
See all the details below.
Tether freezes $873,000 in stablecoins at 32 addresses linked to terrorist activities in Ukraine and Israel
Yesterday, Tether, the largest stablecoin provider in the crypto market with over $68 billion in managed value, announced within its latest blog post that it has frozen $873,118.34 in USDT believed to have been responsible for funding terrorist activities in Ukraine and Israel.
In cooperation with the Israeli National Bureau for Terrorist Financing (NBCTF), Paolo Ardoino and his team were able to freeze 32 cryptographic addresses that in their transaction history show affiliations with Hamas and other Palestinian paramilitary groups.
The company, headquartered in the British Virgin Islands but operating from its headquarters located in Hong Kong, is known for its exploits in countering the use of cryptocurrencies in connection with cyber theft, drug trafficking and terrorist activities.
Although Bitcoin and the rest of the digital currencies were born with the interest of protecting the privacy of those who use them, Tether has a different understanding of this philosophy and promptly blocks all addresses that use its products for illicit purposes.
On yesterday’s day, as bombings and sieges inside the Palestinian border of Gaza unfortunately continued, news broke that the stablecoin issuer’s excellent work had been done, and it can now boast that it was acting for noble causes.
Tether CTO Paolo Ardoino, who will officially become CEO of the same company in December, used these words to describe its latest censorship operation against the 32 criminal crypto accounts in question:
“Tether remains committed to promoting the responsible use of blockchain technology and being a strong defense against cybercrime. We look forward to continued collaboration with global law enforcement as part of our commitment to global security and financial integrity.”
The news follows another activity geared toward bringing down terrorist financing in Israel, this time spearheaded by cryptocurrency exchange Binance, which cooperated with Jerusalem police forces to seize several wallets that had had financial dealings with Hamas.
Teher, on the other hand, recently distinguished itself by blacklisting an address that, by exploiting a vulnerability in the MEV-boost-relay code, had stolen $25 million from MEV bots, through a particular front-running strategy known as the sandwich attack.
In November of last year, on the other hand, the same company operating in the stablecoin sector, had blocked a wallet containing 46 million USD following a request from U.S. authorities who had noticed a strong connection to the FTX hack, which occurred in parallel with the collapse of Sam Bankman Fried’s exchange.
Tether’s efforts to counter the use of cryptocurrency for illicit activities: more than 900 addresses blocked to date
After the latest blow put in place by Tether to prevent the stablecoins it issued from being used to fund terrorism in Ukraine and Israel, the cryptocurrency company reaffirmed its commitment to fighting criminality within the cryptocurrency context.
Tether over the years has helped 31 agencies worldwide operating in 19 different jurisdictions disrupt stablecoin flows, mostly in USDT, from crypto hacks and/or geared toward subsidizing illicit activities.
Countries that Paolo Ardoino and his team have worked with include Brazil, Singapore, the Philippines, Germany, South Korea, Norway, Poland, Switzerland, Greece, Canada, Croatia, Italy, Argentina, Australia, Belgium, the Cayman Islands, China, the Netherlands, El Salvador , Germany, Hong Kong, India, Ireland, Israel, Kyrgyzstan, New Zealand, Spain, Taiwan, the United Kingdom, Ukraine, Estonia, and the United States.
In total since November 2017, accounts with a total counter value of $835 million have been freed. This is a small amount when we consider that the cybercrime market is worth $445 billion to date, but Tether’s ideological positioning and dedication to making the cryptocurrency world a better place, made up of legitimate and law-abiding transactions, remains strong nonetheless.
The addresses blocked by the cryptocurrency company that manages the issuance of the world’s largest stablecoin in terms of capitalization (USDT), amount to 909 after the last operation put in place in the territories of Israel and Ukraine.
Exactly 3 years, “only” 96 addresses had been banned by Tether, with controls intensifying from 2021 onward and leading to the growth of the company’s blacklist.
Tether does not actually have the powers to freeze an entire crypto wallet, but it does have the ability to intervene by blocking the “send USDT” function to each individual wallet, making it effectively impossible to spend the stablecoin in question.
This “special power” of the company has sometimes been criticized by advocates of decentralized culture, such that it has been described as outright collective censorship by a single individual.
In reality, however, Tether has always acted in good faith and has simply put a stop to criminal entities that had exploited the pseudo-anonymity factor of cryptocurrencies for actions that were anything but legitimate.
Added to this is the continued pressure from some media outlets that continue to erroneously claim that digital currencies are mainly used to launder money, finance drug trafficking and other illicit activities.
As Paul Ardoino explained, however, after the blocking of 32 addresses linked to the wars in Ukraine and Israel:
“Cryptocurrency is a powerful tool, but it is not a tool for crime.Contrary to popular belief, cryptocurrency transactions are not anonymous; they are the most traceable and trackable assets. Every transaction is recorded on the blockchain, making it possible for anyone to track the movement of funds. As a result, criminals stupid enough to use cryptocurrencies for illegal activities will inevitably be identified.”