Stablecoin Tether steps up monitoring in bid to combat illicit finance

By Elizabeth Howcroft

LONDON (Reuters) – The world’s largest stablecoin, Tether, has stepped up monitoring of how its tokens are used in broader crypto markets and payments in a bid to combat illicit finance, Tether said in a statement on Thursday.

Tether, a cryptocurrency pegged to the U.S. dollar, and blockchain analytics company Chainalysis have launched new tools to identify transactions associated with sanctioned entities and analyse the activity of major holders of the token, Tether said.

Last month, Reuters reported that Venezuela’s state-run oil company PDVSA planned to increase use of Tether in its crude and fuel exports at a time when the U.S. has reimposed oil sanctions.

The Wall Street Journal reported last month that Russian middlemen had used Tether to evade Western sanctions in order to source weapons parts for drones and other military equipment.

A spokesperson for Tether did not immediately respond to a Reuters request for comment asking if there was a link between Thursday’s announcement and the Reuters report on PDVSA. Tether’s announcement did not mention either report.

Tether has previously said that every action with the cryptocurrency is online and traceable, and “every asset can be seized and every criminal can be caught.”

Tether has grown rapidly in recent years, hitting $100 billion in circulation in March. That growth has been driven by its use as an alternative to the dollar in emerging markets, Tether CEO Paolo Ardoino told Reuters last month.

Stablecoin Tether steps up monitoring in bid to combat illicit finance
FILE PHOTO: Figurines with computers and smartphones are seen in front of Tether logo in this illustration taken, February 19, 2024. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration/File Photo

Stablecoins can be used as a form of payment, as well as to convert in and out of other tokens, such as bitcoin, when trading on crypto exchanges.

Tether, which is registered in Hong Kong and owned by a company registered in the British Virgin Islands, is able to freeze its tokens and has previously said it has done so in response to requests from law enforcement.