US-Led Multilateral Ransomware Meeting Calls for Enhanced Powers Over Crypto

Crypto is the “primary” financial instrument used to facilitate attacks.

Oct 15, 2021 at 7:30 a.m. UTC
Updated Oct 15, 2021 at 1:56 p.m. UTC

Participating governments will strengthen their capacity to clamp down on the use of virtual assets in ransomware operations, 31 countries and the European Union said in a joint statement following a U.S.-led conference on ransomware.

  • The participating members will enhance the capacity of national authorities “to regulate, supervise, investigate and take action” against the exploitation of virtual assets by malicious actors, whilst adhering to “appropriate” privacy protections, the statement said.
  • The virtual meeting was hosted by the U.S. White House. Representative from Australia, Brazil, Bulgaria, Canada, Czech Republic, the Dominican Republic, Estonia, European Union, France, Germany, India, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Kenya, Lithuania, Mexico, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Nigeria, Poland, Republic of Korea, Romania, Singapore, South Africa, Sweden, Switzerland, Ukraine, United Arab Emirates and the United Kingdom participated.
  • The statement said crypto is “the primary instrument” criminals used in ransomware payments and money laundering.
  • Uneven enforcement of the recommendations of the global Financial Action Task Force, an inter-governmental organization, has lead to jurisdictional arbitrage that ransomware operators can exploit, the joint statement proclaimed.
  • North America is disproportionately affected by ransomware. Between July 2020 and June 2021, North American addresses sent $131 million to ransomware attacks, more than double that of the next biggest target region, Central, Western and Northern Europe, according to a report by intelligence firm Chainalysis.

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Eliza Gkritsi is a CoinDesk news reporter based in Asia.