The digital asset exchange Binance blocked accounts linked to relatives of government officials in Moscow. Amid growing international sanctions over Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the trading platform said it would continue to screen users linked to sanctioned individuals.
Binance crypto-exchange bans children of high-ranking Russian figures
Binance, the world’s leading cryptocurrency exchange, has blocked several accounts linked to relatives of some high-ranking members of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s administration, Bloomberg reports. The move comes amid sanctions that continue to fall on Russia in response to its military assault on neighboring Ukraine.
Among the users who have been denied access in the past two months since Russian troops crossed the Ukrainian border are Polina Kovaleva, stepdaughter of Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, and Elizaveta Peskov, daughter of Kremlin press secretary Dmitry Peskov.
Binance also banned Kirill Malofeev, son of Russian oligarch Konstantin Malofeev. The latter has been accused by Washington of funding pro-Russian separatists in Ukraine. Malofeyev, who is on U.S. and EU sanctions lists and is wanted by Kiev authorities for his involvement in the war in Donbass, is a supporter of Putin.
The news of the account closures came after Binance restricted service to Russian users earlier in April under the latest round of sanctions approved by the European Union. The restrictions apply to Russian citizens, residents and legal entities who have crypto-assets worth more than 10,000 euros ($10,800) on the platform.
In early March, Binance CEO Changpeng Zhao said that the exchange was freezing the accounts of Russian citizens who had been hit by sanctions, but insisted that it would be “unethical” to block all Russians. At the same time, he dismissed fears that cryptocurrencies could help Moscow circumvent Western sanctions.
Binance said it blocked Peskova on March 3 when she tried to use the exchange through a third-party broker. The following week, she came under U.S. Treasury Department sanctions, according to the report.
Kovaleva’s account was closed on March 24, the day she came under U.S. sanctions. On April 20, the U.S. Treasury Department put Malofeev on the list, and his Binance accounts were blocked this week, the company added.
The crypto-exchange will continue its efforts to identify other people associated with sanctioned individuals, the platform’s global head of sanctions assured. “The difference is that our compliance operations are ‘proactive,’ aimed at identifying and deterring the risk of financial crime before any regulatory or legal action is taken against these individuals or entities,” Chagri Poyraz was quoted as saying.
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