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.
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.”