Heir to Cartier empire arrested for attempted money laundering using USDT

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The United States Department of Justice (DoJ) has arrested Maximilien de Hoop Cartier, a successor to the French luxury brand Cartier, over money laundering charges using cryptocurrency. 

Per a May 2 indictment, the accused has been charged with drug trafficking and laundering funds using the popular stablecoin Tether (USDT).

A direct descendent of Louis Cartier, the founder of the luxury watch, necklace, and bracelet maker, the accused was allegedly involved with the Colombian drug cartel. He attempted to import 100 kilos worth of cocaine and laundered millions of dollars via over-the-counter USDT trades.

Cartier employed multiple shell companies to execute his operations. These companies were reported as software and technology businesses. Using these company accounts, the accused laundered hundreds of millions of dollars worth of illicit proceeds via USDT, dollars, pesos, and other currencies.

According to the indictment, Cartier was using the shell companies as unlicensed money transmitters. Before his apprehension in Miami, he, alongside five other accomplices, managed to launder 14.5 million USDT.

Cartier is currently awaiting sentencing at a Miami detention center and will face four counts of criminal misconduct. His accomplices are being held in a Colombian prison.

He is currently facing charges for operating an unlicensed money remitter, transacting in property derived from illegal activities, money laundering, and conspiracy to commit money laundering.

The indictment closely follows Tether’s announcement on May 2 regarding its plan to develop a tool to monitor secondary market activity. Blockchain intelligence firm Chainalysis will lead the development of the new tool. The solution will allow the stablecoin issuer to identify transactions potentially associated with illicit categories like terrorist financing.

In the past, Tether has actively worked alongside the law to clamp down on illicit transfers using USDT. 

The stablecoin issuer recently vowed to freeze assets linked to PDVSA. This decision followed reports that the Venezuelan state-run oil company plans to leverage USDT to dodge U.S. sanctions.

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