The amount of cryptocurrency used in money laundering activities increased 30% in 2021 compared to the year before, but represents a smaller portion of total transactions, according to an annual crypto money laundering report by Chainalysis, a blockchain data analytics firm. 

Fast facts

  • Cybercriminals laundered US$8.6 billion worth of cryptocurrency last year, with the total since 2017 reaching US$33 billion. 
  • However, the proportion of illicit activity compared to total transaction volume has decreased over the past three years, from 3.37% in 2019 to 0.15% in 2021.
  • ​​The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime estimates that between US$800 billion and US$2 trillion of fiat currency is laundered each year — as much as 5% of global GDP — while money laundering accounted for just 0.05% of all crypto transaction volume in 2021, the report says.
  • The illegal crypto activity that saw the most growth in 2021 was theft, which saw a 516% surge in stolen value, while scams saw an 82% increase in scamming revenue since the year prior. 
  • Chainalysis cautioned that the 2021 crypto crime figures could increase as authorities identify more deposit addresses associated with illicit activity.