US Sanctions Russian Crypto Mining Host BitRiver

BitRiver and 10 subsidiaries were added to the OFAC list Wednesday in connection with their ties to the Russian economy.

Apr 20, 2022 at 6:21 p.m. UTC
Updated Apr 21, 2022 at 5:23 p.m. UTC

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

Aoyon Ashraf is crypto mining reporter with more than a decade of experience in covering equity markets

The U.S. government added Russian crypto mining company BitRiver to its sanctions list on Wednesday as part of its ongoing effort to blockade Russian firms from accessing the global financial network in the wake of Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

The Treasury Department's Office of Foreign Asset Control (OFAC), which handles the U.S. sanctions list, added BitRiver and 10 subsidiaries, saying the companies "operated in the technology sector" of Russia's economy.

"Treasury is also taking action against companies in Russia’s virtual currency mining industry. By operating vast server farms that sell virtual currency mining capacity internationally, these companies help Russia monetize its natural resources. Russia has a comparative advantage in crypto mining due to energy resources and a cold climate. However, mining companies rely on imported computer equipment and fiat payments, which makes them vulnerable to sanctions," a Treasury statement said.

Unlike some crypto-related sanctions, OFAC did not list any bitcoin or other crypto wallet addresses associated with the sanctioned companies.

The U.S. has sanctioned various Russian oligarchs and key businesses after Russia invaded Ukraine at the end of February, in the hopes that financial penalties might convince Russian President Vladimir Putin to withdraw his troops. Some Russian banks have also been blockaded from the international SWIFT bank connections network.

One of BitRiver's partners, En+, is also tied to Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska, a billionaire who was also sanctioned by the U.S. in 2018. While En+ was sanctioned at the time, the sanctions on it were lifted after Deripaska reduced his holdings in the power production company.

Bitriver did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

UPDATE (April 20, 2022, 19:00 UTC): Adds additional context.

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

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Aoyon Ashraf is crypto mining reporter with more than a decade of experience in covering equity markets

CoinDesk - Unknown

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

CoinDesk - Unknown

Aoyon Ashraf is crypto mining reporter with more than a decade of experience in covering equity markets

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