German police believe a pair of men suspected of assisting the Islamist gunman in the 2020 Vienna attack to have used cryptocurrency exchange Binance.
The men were implicated in a March 2021 letter from Germany’s Federal Criminal Police Office (BKA), recently revealed to Reuters. According to the letter, there were indications that the men identified as Drilon G., a German national, and Blinor S. of Kosovo had bought or sold an unspecified amount of cryptocurrency on Binance. The BKA alleges that Blinor S. used a bank account to make “several” transactions with Binance, while a Binance verification code was found on Drilon G’s phone.
So far, the BKA has refused to release any details regarding the dates, number of value of the transactions. In connection with “potential terrorist attack plans,” the federal authority also requested Binance provide any data related to the duo, including all digital currency transactions.
In their defense, Blinor S. and Drilon G., denied assisting the gunman, or using cryptocurrencies to finance any attack. While Blinor S. did acknowledge investing in cryptocurrencies, saying he had opened a Binance account in February, he stressed doing so only for investment purposes. “I know that every transaction on Binance is traceable,” he said. According to lawyers for both men, neither have been formally charged with a crime and no arrest warrants have yet been issued.
Crypto in crime
Armed with an automatic rifle, a handgun and a machete, a 20-year-old Austrian with North Macedonian nationality opened fire at six places around Vienna’s main synagogue on November 2, 2020. After firing into crowded bars for several minutes, killing four and injuring 23, the gunman was shot and killed by police. In a public statement from July last year, Germany’s Federal Public Prosecutor General had named Drilon G. and Blinor S. as suspects who had known about the attack in advance and failed to report them.
While it’s still unclear what role cryptocurrencies may have played in this crime, crypto-linked crime around the world rose nearly 80% last year. The value of crime linked to cryptocurrencies nearly doubled last year to $14 billion, rising 79% from $7.8 billion in 2020.
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