Russian Agency to Track Crypto Wallets of Criminal Suspects

Aug 30, 2018 at 01:50 UTC
NEWS

Rosfinmonitoring, the Russian government agency responsible for monitoring and preventing financial crimes in the country, is seeking to expand its internal systems to account for cryptocurrencies.

The order, first reported earlier this week by the BBC, indicates that the agency wants to beef up its ability to monitor alternative types of transactions, including those made with cryptocurrencies. According to the publication, an improved system allowing for data about crypto wallets tied to certain individuals is being developed by Moscow Institute for Security and Information Analysis (SPI), with a price tag of roughly 195 million rubles (or about $2.8 million).

According to documents published through an electronic auction system that registers purchases and purchase requests from Russian agencies, Rosfinmonitoring should get the updated system before the end of the year.

The SPI has created other law enforcement-focused tools in the past, according to the BBC. Outside of the documents, not much is known about the scope of the initiative, and the SPI didn’t respond to a request for comment.

Rosfinmonitoring declined to reveal any details about its crypto-monitoring capabilities, with its press office saying in an email that information about the system is classified.

That the agency would solicit such functionality is perhaps unsurprising, and its work could one day fit into a wider regulatory framework within Russia. As previously reported, policymakers and legislators in the country have gone back and forth on the question of cryptocurrency oversight. Last year, for example, it was reported that Rosfinmonitoring could play a possible role in monitoring transactions on regulated cryptocurrency exchanges.

Yet the criteria for how that information would be added to Rosfinmonitoring’s systems isn’t clear. In recent years, the number of people placed on the agency’s list has been tabulated by those who have been charged over social media posts that are considered extremist or anti-religious in nature.

Right now, the list of individuals whose accounts have been blocked in Russia due to terrorism charges includes 8,600 people. The list of entities has 485 entries, with most of them being various Russian religious organizations. The database also lists 101 foreign entities and 415 foreign individuals.

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