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Tether freezes crypto wallets linked to terrorism in Israel, Ukraine

The world’s biggest stablecoin, tether, saw more than $10 billion in redemptions in May, fueling fears of a 2008-style “bank run.”

Justin Tallis | AFP via Getty Images

Tether froze 32 virtual wallets linked to crypto-funded terrorism and warfare in Israel and Ukraine, according to a media release published Monday.

Tether, which issues the world’s largest stablecoin of the same name, says it has been collaborating with the National Bureau for Counter Terror Financing of Israel in its efforts. The collective value of the frozen addresses is $873,118.34.

Tether’s U.S. dollar-pegged stablecoin, dubbed tether or USDT, has a market cap of $83.5 billion and offers dollar exposure to those in many markets across the world who wouldn’t otherwise have access. The company has also battled troubling allegations of wrongdoing for years with Tether’s business practices having been called into question, as well as the state of its reserves.

Tether’s newly named CEO, Paolo Ardoino, said in a statement, “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 feasible for anyone to trace fund movements. Consequently, criminals foolish enough to employ cryptocurrencies for illegal activities will inevitably be identified.”

Tether has periodically frozen and returned stolen funds to rightful holders. The company says it has helped 31 agencies across 19 global jurisdictions to freeze $835 million in assets connected to crime. Also, in November 2022, the company complied with a request by law enforcement to freeze $46 million worth of USDT belonging to bankrupt crypto exchange FTX.

“Tether remains committed to promoting responsible blockchain technology use and standing as a robust defense against cybercrime,” continued Ardoino.

“We eagerly anticipate continued collaboration with global law enforcement agencies as part of our commitment to global security and financial integrity.”

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