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Coinbase Blocks 25,000 Russian Accounts Allegedly Linked to Illicit Activities

UTC by Tolu Ajiboye · 3 min read
Coinbase Blocks 25,000 Russian Accounts Allegedly Linked to Illicit Activities
Photo: Depositphotos

Coinbase has flagged thousands of questionable Russian crypto accounts and turned them to the US government to support sanctions enforcement.

Coinbase (NASDAQ: COIN) said it will block more than 25K crypto accounts linked to Russian holders allegedly engaged in illicit activities. The leading American crypto exchange revealed this in a blogpost, stating that it has shared the flagged accounts with the US government to “support sanctions enforcement”. The statement read:

“Today, Coinbase 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. Once we identified these addresses, we shared them with the government to further support sanctions enforcement.”

Furthermore, Coinbase’s post also reaffirmed the crypto exchange’s willingness to comply with any future sanctions imposed. On Friday last week, the company’s co-founder and CEO Brian Armstrong had stated that Coinbase did not have any plans to ban Russian users in solidarity with Ukraine. According to Armstrong at the time:

“We believe everyone deserves access to basic financial services unless the law says otherwise… If the US government decides to impose a ban, we will of course follow those laws.”

Coinbase Does Not Think that Holders of Russian Accounts Can Use Their Addresses to Evade Sanctions

Following sanctions imposed on Russia for waging war against Ukraine, the Russian financial system is beginning to buckle. Owing to the collapse of Russia’s ruble, citizens are resorting to crypto to protect their interests. Asked if crypto could also aid pro-government Russian oligarchs in avoiding sanctions, Armstrong begged to differ. As the Coinbase chief executive officer put it:

“…we don’t think there’s a high risk of Russian oligarchs using crypto to avoid sanctions. Because it is an open ledger, trying to sneak lots of money through crypto would be more traceable than using US dollars cash, art, gold, or other assets.”

According to experts, Coinbase and other companies’ refusal to boycott Russia weakens Western attempts to alienate Russia from the global community.

Russia Under International Denunciation

Since its unprovoked attack on Ukraine on February 24th, Russia has drawn annoyance from the international community. Russian President Vladimir Putin and known associates are suffering increasing backlash from some countries. Currently, the US government and its Western allies have imposed several financial sanctions on Russia. These range from ousting Russian banks from the SWIFT system to numerous businesses withdrawing operations on Russian soil.

Elsewhere, several Russians continue to bear the brunt of Moscow’s injudiciousness. For instance, governments around the world are banning international flights to and from Russia, leaving travelers stranded. For sporting events, Russian representatives have been ostracized or asked to fly neutral flags when competing. Those who fail to comply risk getting cut from their respective fields of endeavor.

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