The Brazilian Police Force confiscated 591 bitcoin amounting to 150 million Brazilian real (about $28.6 million) in a crackdown on a suspected fraudulent scheme.
According to a CNN Brazil report, federal police as part of “Operation Kryptos” – an ongoing investigation of an alleged financial pyramid scheme arrested 5 persons in connection with the crime and also recovered about $3.63 million in cash, in addition to 21 luxury vehicles, high-end watches, and jewelry while fulfilling 15 search and seizure warrants.
Glaidson Acácio, the owner of a bitcoin consultancy in the municipality of Cabo Frio, in the Lakes Region of Rio de Janeiro was among those arrested. Acácio is suspected of being the ringleader of the scheme, which promised a 15% return on investment, but has however been used as a front to launder billions.
The suspect is scheduled to appear before the court. However, his counsel stated that while they were aware of the arrest, they had not gotten access to all the specifics of the case. Meanwhile, the police plan to liquidate the recovered cryptocurrencies to make them available for court.
This is not the first time the country is recovering illicit cryptocurrencies. The country’s police in July also busted an alleged $150 million crypto scam in which over 7000 investors lost their money. Cláudio Oliveira, the president of the Bitcoin Banco Group was arrested for illegally diverting the money to his personal account after investigations by the police force.
The Brazilian Police force has an ongoing war on money laundering activities involving cryptocurrencies. Brazilian Federal Police launched Operation Compliance, a probe against cryptocurrency-related money laundering crimes earlier this month. Operation Compliance is an offshoot of an investigation that identified cryptocurrency-related money laundering crimes on the internet started in 2018. As part of the operation, they have raided several locations allegedly linked to cryptocurrency-related money laundering operations.
Notably, the investigations have been able to crack a ring of businesses laundering money by transacting among themselves. $33 million belonging to shell companies was recovered after Brazilian courts issued six search warrants in properties linked to these shell companies located in Diadema and in the Capital.
The country is not alone in its efforts to rid itself of money laundering activities involving cryptocurrencies. The British police also reported the confiscation of around $250 million worth of cryptocurrency as part of an ongoing money-laundering investigation. The announcement made in July still remains one of the largest crypto seizures in the world.
Despite this, Brazil is still rapidly adopting Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies. Mercado Bitcoin, the country’s largest crypto exchange, traded $5 billion in the first quarter of 2021 alone compared to $1.2 billion in all of 2020. Brazil is also one of the countries that have shown interest in following the steps of El Salvador to adopt Bitcoin as legal tender. It was the second country to approve a Bitcoin ETF after Canada.