Binance closes Russian officials’ relatives’ accounts, calling it a legal obligation

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Binance, the largest crypto exchange in the U.S. recently announced they closed accounts of Russian officials and their relatives associated with the Russian government. Since the Ukraine-Russia war, the exchange implemented restriction policies on Russians by limiting transactions

Russia’s attack on Ukraine created huge chaos in the crypto world. The crypto community played a huge role in aiding Ukraine by donating funds. Since then, the prices dropped to lower levels to facilitate the country.

During this time, the crypto exchanges set a restriction on Russians for violating the U.S and European sanctions. Binance is one of the biggest exchanges with many Russian users. It also announced a restriction policy for Russian nationals.

Binance releases changes of services for Russians

On April 21, Binance released an official announcement following the fifth restrictive measure set by the European Union against Russia.

The crypto exchange announced that Russians with crypto assets of around 10,000 EUR will receive limited services. This also includes non-Russians residing in Russia. The users were instructed “90 days to close out their positions” and “No new positions will be allowed to be added.”

Binance blocks Russian accounts

After the announcement, Binance took another step forward to maintain its trust in the international market by closing Russian accounts associated with the Russian government.

The exchange’s CEO said that this measure is a legal obligation to protect the company’s commitment.

The list of Russian accounts included in this measure include Elizaveta Peskova; the daughter of President Putin’s spokesperson, Dmitry Peskov, Polina Kovaleva; the stepdaughter of foreign minister Sergei Lavrov, and Kirill Malofeev; the son of a Russian oligarch, Konstantin Malofeev who was indicted for violating U.S. sanctions.

These mentioned figures fall under the “Kremlin elites” and were charged by the U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control for aiding the Russian government.

Elizaveta Peskova’s account got blocked due to her attempt to use a third-party brokerage on the exchange to make a transaction on March 3. She was also added to the U.S. sanctions. Peskova called it “unfair” and said, “I was really surprised because it’s weird introducing sanctions on someone who is 24 years old and has nothing to do with the situation.”

Polina Kovaleva’s crypto account was also blocked by Binance. Kirill Malofeev was charged with promoting and funding Russian separatism in Crimea. His father is sanctioned by the U.S. as well.

In response to blocking the accounts, Chagri Poyraz, Binance’s Global Head of Sanctions, expressed, “Proud to be a part of this team that makes a real difference.” He had previously reported on Peskova’s crypto activity and the firm took restrictive measures to close her account.

Binance has been taking proactive measures to prevent any major illegal transactions that might benefit the Russian government. Poyraz says, “What’s different is that our compliance screen operations are ‘proactive,’ aiming to detect and deter financial crime risk before any regulatory or legal action towards these individuals or entities.”

The crypto exchange claims it is closely monitoring transactions to ensure none violate the international sanctions through its platform.

Russia itself has strict laws against Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies. In 2021, Putin signed a law that required Russian officials to share their crypto holdings, including their children’s and spouses’ accounts. The government also placed a ban on investing in cryptocurrencies.

Despite the law, many Russian officials’ family members own crypto accounts.

Binance’s future in Russia

Binance has already terminated its services in Russia since the war began. As Russia continues to illegally attack Ukraine, the crypto exchange stands with Ukraine and the European Union in terms of its policies.

In response to Binance blocking accounts, the Ukraine Minister of digital transformation Mykhailo Fedorov tweeted:

The Russian crypto community is truly at a loss as the crypto market denies their entry.

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