BKEX Global, a crypto exchange incorporated in the British Virgin Islands, suspended withdrawals on Monday to cooperate with the police.

In an announcement on its website, BKEX disclosed that some of its users’ funds were linked to a money laundering incident. The crypto exchange said it would actively work with the relevant authorities to resolve the issues and restore normal operations.

According to data from CoinMarketCap, BKEX is the 16th largest crypto exchange by trading volume, with over 8 million users in 100 countries. The exchange supports over 1000 crypto trading pairs and more than 100 crypto derivative futures.

The decision to suspend withdrawals entirely to assist authorities with a money laundering investigation that likely concerns a small subset of the platform’s users is unusual for a crypto exchange operating on a global scale. Several aggrieved users took to Twitter to share their frustration. 

“First time I see an exchange that stops all withdrawals for a few that are doing wash trade [sic]. this is unacceptable as a service,” said one user. 

Chainalysis estimates that illicit addresses laundered $23.8 billion worth of crypto in 2022, with centralized crypto exchanges being the biggest recipient of these funds.

“That’s notable not just because those crypto exchanges generally have compliance measures in place to report this suspicious activity and take action against the users in question, but also because those exchanges are fiat off-ramps, where the illicit cryptocurrency can be converted into cash,” said Chainalysis.