The major crypto asset exchange OKEx has suspended cryptocurrency withdrawals, announcing that one of its holders of private keys is “currently cooperating with a security security bureau” regarding ongoing “investigations.”
The exchange noted that it was “out of touch” with the key-owner, preventing “associated permissions” from being completed. OKEx plans to resume digital asset withdrawals “immediately” once the key holder “authorizes the transaction.”
Citing its terms of service, OKEx said it decided to suspend the withdrawals but added that the security of its customers̵7; assets “would not be affected” by the events.
Bitcoin (BTC) fell nearly 3% in response to the news, while OKEx native token OKB fell 15%.
Hours before the announcement, the on-chain Whale Alert transaction tracking service mentioned several large transfers between OKEx and unknown wallets.
Outgoing transfers of 1,180 BTC worth $ 13.6 million, 50 million Tron (TRX) worth $ 1.3 million, and 21,000 Ether (ETH) were made in six hours, in conjunction with an incoming transaction -about $ 13.9 million in Tether (USDT). The transfers took place over a similar period of time by transferring coins from the Bitfinex hack according to the Whale Alert feed, however this may have been just a coincidence given the many transactions that occur daily.
Beijing-based reporter Colin Wu, who writes on WeChat’s public account @wublockchain, suggested an investigation into OKEx could be linked to money laundering.
“The Chinese government is cracking down on money laundering using cryptocurrency for telecom fraud, and the centralized exchange is in a dangerous state.”
OKEx targets Asian markets, even though its headquarters are in Malta. Wu also accused him of discovering an “OTC merchant in OKEx who mistakenly received 500,000 CNY from the fraud group and was chased by police throughout the provinces.”
Wu’s information was not verified at this early stage.
The OKEx situation comes after 48 hours of seeing at least 33 arrests resulting from separate law enforcement targeting global money laundering operations in North America, Oceania, and Europe.