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Binance closes accounts of individuals with links to Russian government

Binance announced on Thursday that it has closed several accounts associated with relatives of Russian officials since the beginning of the war with Ukraine, following last week’s announcement that the exchange was limiting services in the country. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov’s stepdaughter and the daughter of President Vladimir Putin’s spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, have both had their accounts blocked since Russia invaded Ukraine in February, Binance’s head of sanctions told Bloomberg.  Binance also revealed that the son of Konstantin Malofeev, …

Two Europeans charged with helping North Korea evade US sanctions

Two European individuals allegedly conspired with a United States citizen to provide officials in the North Korean government information to bypass U.S. sanctions using cryptocurrency, according to a release from the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) released Monday. Alejandro Cao de Benos of Spain and Christopher Emms of the United Kingdom allegedly co-founded a pro-North Korea conference called the “Pyongyang Blockchain and Cryptocurrency Conference,” recruiting U.S citizen Virgil Griffith as a crypto expert. At the 2019 conference, in which members …

Here are Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska’s ties to the newly sanctioned bitcoin mining company

On Wednesday, The Block reported that the US Treasury had added bitcoin mining firm BitRiver to its sanctions list.  As of the latest reports, BitRiver is the largest provider of cryptocurrency mining hosting in Russia. The particular incentives for the sanctioning were, however, vague.   The move drew widespread attention as the first time the Treasury had gone after cryptocurrency mining. The Treasury’s own headline read: “Treasury takes new step of designating a virtual currency mining company.” The Treasury has not …

Latest EU sanctions force Binance to crack down on Russian users

Crypto exchange Binance is enforcing tougher Know Your Customer (KYC) checks for Russian users after the latest wave of European Union sanctions. In a blog post today, Binance said that it will limit services for “Russian nationals or natural persons residing in Russia, or legal entities established in Russia” with crypto holdings exceeding €10,000 (around $10,900), following the EU’s fifth package of anti-Russia restrictions. Users that fit this description will be made to complete a proof-of-address check. Ukraine’s deputy minister …

US Treasury sanctions Russian crypto miners, its first sanction on mining

Today, the US Treasury took aim at Russia’s cryptocurrency mining industry. On April 20, the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control added Russia-based cryptocurrency miner BitRiver as well as 10 subsidiaries to its Specially Designated Nationals list. According to an announcement shared with The Block, the move is indicative of a broader push against Russia’s crypto mining industry. The Treasury did not mention any particular association between BitRiver and the Putin regime.  “By operating vast server farms that sell virtual …

IMF calls for coordinated effort, capital controls for crypto

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) is encouraging global policymakers to develop standards for crypto in response to growing concerns highlighted by the war in Ukraine. In its Global Financial Stability Report published Tuesday, the IMF directly addressed crypto’s potential use in sanctions evasion by Russia and its potential to threaten the stability of existing financial systems through the changing banking landscape. The global financial system has seen increasing “cryptoization” amid the war in Ukraine and the COVID-19 pandemic, according to …

Ethereum dev Virgil Griffith sentenced to 63 months for North Korean crypto expedition

A Manhattan judge has sentenced Virgil Griffith to 63 months in jail for a 2019 presentation he gave at the Pyongyang Blockchain and Cryptocurrency Conference.  Judge Kevin Castel of the Southern District of New York also fined Griffith $100,000 for his work teaching North Korea about how to use cryptocurrencies. Local media Inner City Press broke the news on April 12.  Initially arrested in November of 2019, Griffith pleaded guilty in September after a drawn-out case over whether his work …

EU moves to block the provision of ‘high-value’ crypto services to Russia

The Council of the European Union has agreed on Friday to bar Russians from being able to access “high-value” crypto services as part of the latest round of sanctions imposed on the country due to its invasion of Ukraine. The crypto prohibition is one of three financial measures listed in the six-part sanctions package. Other items listed include a full asset freeze on four Russian banks that account for over a fifth of the country’s banking sector and an embargo …

Congresswoman calls Yellen to account for work on targeting crypto in Russian sanctions evasion

Lawmakers want more answers on the Treasury’s work targeting crypto in Russia’s sanctions evasion. On April 6, Janet Yellen, secretary of the US Treasury Department, testified before the House Financial Services Committee in a hearing entitled “The State of the International Financial System.” Though Yellen only said the word “sanction” once in her opening statements, it was the central focus of many of the representatives on the committee, with many on ways of tightening sanctions against Russia’s government.  Nydia Velásquez …

US sanctions world’s largest darknet market, Russian crypto exchange

The US Treasury has announced its latest sanctions targeting Russian cybercrime, this time against the largest darknet market in the world. On Tuesday the Treasury announced sanctions on Hydra market and an associated crypto exchange called Garantex. The news follows German authorities’ announcement of the seizure of Hydra’s servers and shutdown of the market’s homepage earlier on Tuesday.  As The Block reported in an investigation last year, Hydra had seemed to survive up to that point by virtue of connections …