Interviews and Reviews

Interview Marina Khaustova, CEO of Crystal Blockchain

Crystal Blockchain provides compliance and investigative solutions for financial institutions, virtual asset service providers, and law enforcement agencies; Interview with Marina Khaustova, the CEO

Interview Marina Khaustova, CEO of Crystal Blockchain

Marina Khaustova, CEO of Crystal Blockchain

  1. We’d love to learn about you and Crystal Blockchain?

I joined Crystal in 2019 as the CEO with the aim of growing the brand and taking its products and services to global markets. 

Our main offering is blockchain analytics tools for companies that work with digital assets. We provide compliance and investigative solutions for financial institutions, virtual asset service providers, and law enforcement agencies. Recently we also launched training courses to educate partners, clients and those new to cryptocurrencies and blockchain

I started my first company in 2008. During this time I realized how crucial sound marketing strategies are for growing businesses. My partners at the time were former bankers from traditional financial services firms. They co-owned Actual Group, LLC (former Element Capital Group, LLC), a digital finance-focused investment bank and asset manager for the emerging blockchain industry in the capital markets. Together we developed a go-to-market strategy for US blockchain companies and acted as fundraising process advisors. We nurtured blockchain projects and start-ups and helped them with their structure, position, growth, and funding.

    2. Crystal employs a diverse group of individuals from around the world. Tell us more about your team? 

Yeah, we are lucky to have an incredible team with offices in Amsterdam, London, Kyiv, and San Francisco, with many of our team remote working from other exotic spots in the world too. 

    3. How are you ensuring business continuity in this tumultuous time of invasion of Ukraine? 

It’s not been easy but our team is made up of incredibly strong people. We are hugely supportive of our Ukraine-based team members. Those in the Ukraine surprise me on a daily basis with their commitment, persistence and unwavering sense of humor too – their passion and resilience is immensely inspiring for all of us. For those who wished to relocate, we provided the resources and support needed, making sure their safety was our priority. Of course, safety is our first priority for all our team members.

    4. Crystal has worked with CoinDesk to uncover the illicit fund flows to the Russian Army. Can you tell us a bit more about that investigative endeavor? 

With researchers from the Ukrainian crypto startup HAPI, who are monitoring such money flows, CoinDesk and Crystal located multiple wallets raising funds for the Russian troops. Then we looked closely at how crypto flows from donors around the world to the Russian troops in Ukraine. CoinDesk analyzed HAPI’s database and selected only addresses posted by accounts explicitly saying they’re helping the Russian army and paramilitary groups. We helped analyze 302 wallets and found that 160 wallets received over $1.8 million worth of crypto.

    5. Can you break it down for us and our readers, and tell us how compliance teams and investigators benefit from blockchain analytics software? 

One of the most important benefits that blockchain analytics software offers is visibility of crypto transactions within the digital asset economy. Currently we are seeing increasing numbers of hacks and scams using cryptocurrencies. At the same time there is a merging of traditional money laundering methods with new. Blockchain analytics is extremely relevant currently – it can provide insight into criminal trends and also helps investigators trace the movement of crypto transactions. This is especially important for enforcement agencies to track illicit activity. It is also important for regulators to ensure compliance.

The amazing thing about blockchain analytics tools, and in particular the data, is that it powers access to valuable insights into crypto-related money laundering typologies that inform investigations and help investigators  understand the opposition. On a very literal level, blockchain analytics tools present incredible visualizations, tying transactions to real-world entities which basically help investigators follow the money.

Compliance teams on other hand are required to monitor transactions for nefarious activity, and submit Suspicious Activity Reports to the regulators if any are found. They are also expected to screen transactions to ensure their firm does not engage in business with a sanctioned entity or individual. For compliance teams, very simply, blockchain analytics tools make the day-to-day jobs easier with great user-interface, workflows and alerts that enhance the required tasks of monitoring and screening crypto transactions. 

Through analytical tools, Crystal Blockchain offers an unprecedented opportunity to investigate organized crime and money laundering networks, which could help to recover stolen funds. This is especially relevant given the massive increase in ransomware crimes that demand crypto payments. Officers can use the valuable insights into crypto-related money laundering typologies that private blockchain holds in order to analyze investigations. 

Additionally, Crystal Blockchain is an excellent resource to use when training personnel on basic concepts relating to blockchain and AML. It’s one thing having the technology available – it’s another having a team of specialists who know the intricacies of how assets are transferred on the blockchain. 

Marina Khaustova Bio

Marina Khaustova is the CEO of Crystal Blockchain, an industry-leading blockchain analytics firm that assists with crypto compliance. Crystal Blockchain provides an all-in-one blockchain analytics tool to customers in the digital asset industry, banking, law enforcement and regulatory sectors. It enables financial services and VASPs to meet global anti-money laundering requirements through crypto transaction monitoring and risk assessment. Customers in law enforcement and regulatory spheres use Crystal technology and data to track thousands of cryptocurrencies in real-time to identify illicit flows. Crystal is available as a free demo, SaaS, and API.

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