EU checking if cryptoassets being used to bust Russian sanctions – EU official

FILE PHOTO: Representations of cryptocurrencies Bitcoin, Ethereum, DogeCoin, Ripple, and Litecoin are seen in front of a displayed Binance logo
FILE PHOTO: Representations of cryptocurrencies Bitcoin, Ethereum, DogeCoin, Ripple, and Litecoin are seen in front of a displayed Binance logo in this illustration taken, June 28, 2021. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration/

March 2, 2022

LONDON (Reuters) – The European Commission is studying whether cryptoassets are being used to get round financial sanctions imposed on Russian banks following the country’s invasion of Ukraine, a senior European Union official said on Wednesday.

Trading volumes between the Russian rouble and the Tether cryptocurrency spiked on Monday as the local currency tumbled to a record low on Western sanctions.

Crypto-exchange Binance has, however, blocked acocunts of any Russian clients targeted by sanctions.

A senior EU official said the EU is aware that cryptoassets were a “possible circumvention route” to avoid sanctions imposed by the bloc and other western powers.

The EU’s executive European Commission has been reading reports in the press on cryptoassets and has also received information directly, the official said.

“The increase in value of some of these assets maybe a response to attempts to circumvent the sanctions. We are looking into this, but no decision has been taken,” the EU official said.

(Reporting by Huw Jones; editing by Philip Blenkinsop)