US Treasury Department Formally Adds Crypto Rules to Russian Sanctions Guidance

U.S. officials also hope crypto exchanges will block sanctioned individuals regardless of where they're headquartered.

AccessTimeIconFeb 28, 2022 at 8:26 p.m. UTC
Updated May 11, 2023 at 3:42 p.m. UTC

The U.S. government is warning crypto exchanges not to facilitate transactions for individuals and entities newly added to its sanctions list.

The Treasury Department published new regulations banning U.S. persons from providing any support to certain Russian oligarchs and entities as part of an ongoing effort to sanction Russia over its invasion of Ukraine, with the rules taking effect on March 1.

“All property and interests in property that are in the United States, that hereafter come within the United States, or that are or hereafter come within the possession or control of any United States person of the following persons are blocked and may not be transferred, paid, exported, withdrawn, or otherwise dealt in … deceptive or structured transactions or dealings to circumvent any United States sanctions, including through the use of digital currencies or assets or the use of physical assets,” the document said.

The U.S., alongside a coalition of European and other nations has been sanctioning Russian officials and President Vladimir Putin after military forces invaded Ukraine last week. These sanctions include seizing international assets held by Russia’s central bank as well as the nation's largest commercial and state-owned banks.

The coalition of nations has also announced they plan to disconnect some of Russia’s largest banks from SWIFT, the interbank messaging network underpinning much of the global financial system.

The regulations published Monday apply to U.S.-based entities. U.S. officials are also asking crypto exchanges around the world to prevent Russian entities from evading sanctions using cryptocurrencies, Bloomberg reported Monday.

Treasury Department officials have already asked Binance, FTX and Coinbase to block sanctioned persons and addresses. Binance and FTX are not headquartered in the U.S.

Binance, with several other exchanges, have publicly stated they will not block all Russian users or IP addresses, despite entreaties from Ukrainian Vice Prime Minister Mykhailo Fedorov.

According to Bloomberg, Binance at least may be willing to block wallets belonging to individuals on the Treasury Department Office of Foreign Asset Controls sanctions list.


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Nikhilesh De

Nikhilesh De is CoinDesk's managing editor for global policy and regulation. He owns marginal amounts of bitcoin and ether.