Russia May Criminalize Illegal Cryptocurrency Activities

Maintaining its positive, yet careful, stance on cryptocurrencies, the Russian Ministry of Internal Affairs is considering making all unauthorized cryptocurrencies a criminally-liable offense, according to local outlet Izvestia.

Russia Seeks Crypto-Criminals

The Russian publication collected several documents about the local legislation on cryptocurrencies. Of these, the primary amendment calls for legalizing open-source cryptocurrencies, such as Bitcoin and Ethereum, and authorizing businesses that deal with such digital assets.

The ministry ascertains that companies and individuals dealing with crypto assets must obtain a “mandatory registration with state authorities” and conduct due diligence on tax regulations.

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The effort stems from Russia’s Interior Directorate for Drugs Controls (GUKON), according to reports. In July, GUKON head Andrey Khrapov asked for the finance ministry’s stance on legalizing cryptocurrencies as well as the feasibility of such regulations in the long term.

However, the country’s Ministry of Economic Development was skeptical toward GUKON’s efforts, calling it premature to consider criminalizing cryptocurrency businesses and related operations, according to Izvestia. Chief Savva Shipov, however, noted that the absence of crypto-specific regulations makes it difficult to enact such a rule.

Opposition

Shipov supported the idea of holding an individual, or corporation, liable to crime if cryptocurrencies were used in a terrorist setting or as a means of payment in established criminal activities such as drug dealing or arms trading.

In addition, Russia overshot its impending cryptocurrency bill by over two months. Last January, the country introduced a framework for digital assets and blockchain technology, titled “On Digital Financial Assets,” which was set to be finalized by July 1, 2018; however, reports confirm only one of the three readings for the bill in the Russian Parliament.

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