Russian Ministry Proposes Correctional Labor Penalty for Bitcoin Crimes

Russia's Ministry of Finance has developed a new version of its proposed law that would both outlaw and apply criminal penalties for bitcoin use.

AccessTimeIconSep 25, 2015 at 7:57 p.m. UTC
Updated Sep 14, 2021 at 2:00 p.m. UTC

Russia's Ministry of Finance has developed a new version of its proposed law that would seek to both outlaw and apply criminal penalties for activities involving digital currencies, according to a report by Russian news source Interfax.

Citing sources from within the Russian government, Interfax reports that acquiring, selling and distributing cryptocurrencies would be punishable with fines of 300,000 rubles ($4,574) or through up to 360 hours of correctional labor under the new bill.

Should such infractions be committed by an agency or group, the fines for such activities would increase to 500,000 rubles ($7,623).

The federal executive body responsible for government policy and regulation, the Ministry of Finance has been seeking to ban cryptocurrencies domestically since it introduced a draft bill in August of 2014. The measure was followed by a series of proposed fines in October, and comes amid a broader push to fight against capital flight.

Interfax reported earlier this week that the Ministry of Finance had once again started talks on the subject matter of regulating the use of "money substitutes", a definition under which bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies could fall.

At the meeting, the news source suggested it was proposed the government also be given the authority to block websites involved in digital currency activities without first proving that they took place via trial.

The talks coincide with a larger debate within the Russian government regarding which agency has the ultimate authority over digital currency activities, as the Bank of Russia, the country's central bank, is also studying the technology.

Of note is that groups such as the Russian Ministry of Interior have previously voiced willingness to defer to the Bank of Russia for ultimate decision-making.

The report suggested another meeting is set to take place on 5th October, at which point the Ministry of Finance would decide how to move forward on the measure and whether a draft bill would be submitted to the government.

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