Mexico’s Financial Intelligence Unit (UIF) has accused 12 crypto exchanges of not complying with its reporting requirements. 

According to Santiago Nieto Castillo, head of the agency, the 12 exchanges, whose names weren’t disclosed, are not registered with the agency and have been operating illegally, local newspaper El Economista reported on Wednesday.  

“We are generating cases so that the attorney general’s office can operate,” Nieto Castillo said during a seminar on financial intelligence and risk management. 

UIF didn’t immediately respond to CoinDesk’s queries about the names of the crypto exchanges involved. 

Nieto Castillo said that combating money laundering through cryptocurrencies is a priority for UIF. 

“A fundamental issue will be to analyze cryptocurrencies and their relationship with criminal groups. I am struck by the fact that many of the cryptocurrency platforms are installed in several municipalities in the state of Jalisco,” Nieto Castillo said, referring to an area dominated by a drug cartel in Jalisco called Nueva Generación. 

Following the enactment of the Fintech Law in 2020, exchanges started reporting transactions exceeding 645 units of account (UMAS, in Spanish), which are equivalent to M$57,804 (US$2,896). 

So far, UIF has received close to 3,400 notifications from 23 exchanges that report information to the Mexican Tax Administration Service (SAT), Nieto Castillo said. 

After receiving that information, UIF identified at least three potential money laundering cases through the use of cryptocurrencies, the official added. 

One of the cases involves Nigerian citizens in Mexico City engaged in cyber fraud, who sent cryptocurrencies back to their home country, Nieto Castillo said. 

Mexico’s UIF works under the supervision of the Secretariat of Finance and is in charge of analyzing information related to illicit money operations.  

In June, Arturo Herrera, Mexico’s finance minister, said cryptocurrencies aren’t considered to be legal tender assets and aren’t treated as currencies under the country’s current regulatory framework. 

Those policies are not expected to be changed in the short term, Herrera stated last month during a presentation to the Financial Action Task Force, a global anti-money laundering group.

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