NFT Artist Accused of Money Laundering, Has Earnings Worth €8.7M Seized

Ayush Pande

The Latvian government accuses generative NFT Artist Ilya Borisov of money laundering through illegal schemes and seizes his earnings worth €8.7M, with a possibility to face up to 12 years in prison if found guilty.

Latvian NFT (generative) artist Ilya Borisov, aka Shvembldr, is one of the many NFT artists who made a fortune by creating NFT assets. As of 2022, he has minted 3557 NFTs on the Ethereum blockchain and made over 4250 ETH by selling them on the OpenSea marketplace. 

Unfortunately, despite paying his taxes and acting transparently, he was accused of illegal money laundering in February and, as of July 25, had his assets frozen for 166 days.

What happened?

The first incident occurred on February 14, when Borisov could not use his card to buy some music software and called the SEB bank to look into the matter. The bank claimed that they were busy dealing with some paperwork that came from the US. Soon after, the bank called back to inform him that the Latvian Police had blocked his bank account. The police refused to give him any details and claimed he would get a notice in his mail. 

Kept in the dark for three months, Borisov received copies of the decision to seize his property and assets by his prosecutor on May 9. It was then that he came to know a case, dating back to February 10, was filed against him over allegations of money laundering via criminal schemes. The document also stated that Borisov could appeal it within ten days, but unfortunately, that term was long gone since he received the copy in May.

Borisov’s Response

After filing a protest to challenge the freezing of his bank account, the court finally granted him access to his funds on June 30. However, it turned out that the main investigator on this case had resigned, and the authorities refused him access to his accounts.

Borisov also revealed that he sent the complete report of his activities as an artist to the Latvian police on July 19 to prove the legality of his assets. He gave the last update of his case on Art Is Crime on July 25, stating that nothing new occurred, and he awaits the next move of the authorities.

Art Is Crime

Borisov took to creating his own website, Art Is Crime, to chronicle the events that led to his assets being frozen. He created the website to protect other NFT artists by spreading the word of his ill-treatment.

He has added every detail of his ongoing case with the Latvian authorities, his timeline as an NFT artist, and all his income data and profiles on NFT platforms to the website to prove his innocence and regain control of his assets.

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