A report exposes how Palestinian militant organizations, including Hamas-linked groups, utilize a Moscow-based crypto exchange to move millions of dollars. The exchange, under U.S. sanctions, allows users to convert Russian currency into crypto and withdraw fiat overseas, while also serving criminal entities and wealthy Russians.
Palestinian extremist group Islamic Jihad in the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip reportedly received a portion of a $93 million payment via the Russian crypto exchange Garantex. This exchange, initially registered in Estonia but now based in Moscow, was sanctioned by the U.S. Treasury Department in April 2022 for evading financial restrictions related to the Ukraine invasion. Garantex is accused of processing illicit transactions from ransomware group Conti and darknet marketplace Hydra. It has also been implicated in laundering funds for Russia’s largest crypto pyramid scheme, Finiko, and raising money for the Russian far-right paramilitary unit Rusich. This report also suggests that Hamas employed a similar funding scheme to obscure transactions and bypass sanctions. Despite U.S. sanctions, Garantex remains active, with a reported trading volume of $865 million in June, surpassing pre-sanction levels.