Tether, issuer of the world’s largest stablecoin USDT
on Thursday froze three addresses on the Ethereum blockchain holding $160 million of its assets.
The company blacklisted the addresses upon request from law enforcement, a representative of Tether told MarketWatch, while declining to provide further details.
Cryptocurrency-based crime hit a new all-time high in 2021, with illicit addresses receiving $14 billion during the year, up from $7.8 billion in 2020, according to a recent Chainalysis report.
The rise in crime has attracted growing attention from law enforcement agencies. The Internal Revenue Service’s Criminal Investigations unit said in November that it seized $3.5 billion in cryptocurrency in nontax investigations during the fiscal year, which makes up 93% of all funds seized during the same period.
Tether said it regularly helps international law enforcement agencies with investigations “to trace and potentially freeze wallets” in a letter published in the South China Morning Post in 2021. The company has blocked 563 addresses since 2017, according to data analytics site Bloxy.