Andrei Lugovoi, the Russian parliament's chief crypto expert, may be connected to a cash over-the-counter (OTC) network located in Moscow, according to Dossier, a Russian media outlet that published an investigation on Monday.
According to Dossier, an OTC called Bankoff is operating from an office owned by a company directed by Lugovoi's wife, Ksenia. Bankoff appears to be the most active trader on Binance's peer-to-peer marketplace for deals with Russian ruble, with the highest daily trading volumes, according to Dossier's research. The almost non-existent know-your-customer/anti-money laundering (KYC/AML) procedures allow users to buy and sell crypto via Bankoff without revealing their identity, Dossier said. (An OTC is a broker-dealer as opposed to a centralized exchange.)
To close a deal with Bankoff, one must go to the Federation Tower of the fancy Moscow City business district in Russia's capital, and bring cash to the office. According to documents from Russia's property registry, the office space belongs to a company named Bratsk Electric Networks. It is owned by three people, of which Ksenia Lugovaya's share is 22.5%, according to Russia's business ownership database. (CoinDesk independently reviewed the records.)
It's not clear whether Bratsk Electric Networks owns the OTC operating from its office space or renting it out. However, the same company owns a crypto mining farm in the Russian city of Bratsk, according to local media. Bratsk, located in the heart of Siberia right by the Bratsk hydro power plant, became one of the favorite locations for miners due to its cold climate and abundance of cheap electricity.
Read more: Bitcoin Mining Farms Are Flourishing on the Ruins of Soviet Industry in Siberia
Andrei Lugovoi is a member of the Liberal Democratic Party's fraction in the Russian parliament, the State Duma, and also a deputy chair of the Security and Corruption Prevention Committee. He is a frequent speaker at crypto-related events in Moscow and regularly comments on Russia's future regulation of cryptocurrencies.
Lugovoy's political career started in 2017, shortly after the U.K. authorities requested his extradition to the U.K. linked to criminal charges of murdering ex-KGB officer and defector Alexander Litvinenko with radioactive isotope polonium-210. In 2016, the European Court of Human Rights ruled that Russia was responsible for Litvinenko's death in 2006 and that Lugovoi, an ex-KGB officer himself, participated in the poisoning.
Dossier is a Russian-language investigative media founded by Mikhail Khodorkovsky, a former Russian tycoon and now political fugitive, who has openly opposed President Putin's regime. The Dossier editorial team is anonymous.