The United States has for the first-time imposed sanctions against a Russia-based cryptocurrency exchange platform SUEX OTC over what it claims was facilitation of financial transactions for various ransomware actors, the Department of the Treasury said on Tuesday.
"Today’s actions include the Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control’s (OFAC) designation of SUEX OTC, S.R.O. (SUEX), a virtual currency exchange, for its part in facilitating financial transactions for ransomware actors," the Treasury Department said in a press release. "This action is the first sanctions designation against a virtual currency exchange and was executed with assistance from the Federal Bureau of Investigation."
The Treasury Department alleges that SUEX OTC has processed illicit transactions related to at least eight ransomware variants and more than 40 percent of all transactions have been associated with ransomware actors, the release said.
SUEX OTC is registered as a legal entity in Russia and the Czech Republic, according to the information published by the Treasury Department.
The United States has claimed a number of ransomware attacks over the past year, including against Colonial Pipeline, the Republican National Committee and the automation software provider Kaseya.
In 2020, ransomware-forced payments to cyber criminals reached more than $400 million or more than four times than those paid in 2019, according to the release.