Crypto exchange Binance is closing off one of its biggest markets just weeks after claiming it wouldn’t kowtow to EU sanctions on Russian users.
Despite chief exec Changpeng Zhao’s claim that it would be “unethical” to expand sanctions beyond identified individuals, the exchange has imposed new restrictions on some Russian users.
According to a blog, Russian nationals and legal entities will be barred from trading and depositing if their account holds over $10,000.
Affected accounts will be reduced to a withdraw-only service and will have 90 days to close any open trading positions.
Conversely, accounts holding a value of less than $10,000 are safe.
On April 8, the European Union (EU) announced a “prohibition on providing high-value crypto-asset services to Russia.” This is part of its fifth wave of sanctions against the Russian economy.
Last month, Coinbase broadcast its intention to implement a variation of financial sanctions on its platform.
Coinbase pledged to “block access to sanctioned users,” “detect attempts at evasion,” and “anticipate threats.”
The company also said it “blocks over 25,000 addresses related to Russian individuals or entities we believe to be engaging in illicit activity, many of which we have identified through our own proactive investigations.”
Kraken says it’s worried about users paying their rent
In contrast, Kraken has remained firm in its position that a Putin-backed invasion shouldn’t affect crypto assets of Russian nationals.
Chief exec Jesse Powell posits that removing access to a user’s crypto account could prevent them from paying rent. Protos reached out to Kraken for comment on its stance but we are yet to receive a reply.
While, strictly speaking, Binance still won’t be banning every Russian-linked account, Zhao looks to have been at least partially won over by the EU’s attempt to sanction decentralized finance.
“While these measures are potentially restrictive to normal Russian citizens, Binance must continue to lead the industry in implementing these sanctions.”
“We believe all other major exchanges must follow the same rules soon,” Binance said.
However, citing persons familiar, Bloomberg notes that the move will only affect less than 50,000 accounts. Binance services around 10 million accounts globally.
According to Bloomberg, the changes won’t affect Russians who are free from sanctions and can confirm that they live outside the country.
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