Putin overestimated his ability to circumvent sanctions with cryptocurrency, says FBI boss | United States and world

Putin overestimated his ability to circumvent sanctions with cryptocurrency, says FBI boss |  United States and world

FBI Ddirector Christophe Wray said Thursday that the Russians “greatly overestimated” their ability to circumvent international sanctions through the use of cryptocurrency.

Wray added that there have been “very large seizures” of Russian-owned cryptocurrency since Russian President Vladimir Putin launched his invasion of Ukraine in late February.

“The ability of the Russians to circumvent sanctions with cryptocurrency is probably greatly overstated by perhaps them and others,” Wray said Thursday during a hearing before the Senate Intelligence Committee. “We are, as a community and with our partners overseas, much more effective at this than I sometimes think they appreciate.”


“We have developed significant expertise both at the FBI and with some of our partners, and there have been some very large seizures and other efforts that I think have exposed the vulnerability of cryptocurrency as a means of get around the sanctions,” Wray added.

Wray’s comments were an apparent dig at cryptocurrency critics such as Senator Elizabeth Warren, a Democrat from Massachusetts, who has tagged decentralized digital currencies pose a threat to national security and suggested that Russian oligarchs are actively circumventing economic sanctions through their use.

“We’re aiming for two things: trying to squeeze the Russian economy and also trying to squeeze these oligarchs, right? The problem is, we’re only doing it through the formal banking system,” Warren said. noted Tuesday. “These oligarchs can move a lot of money or store a lot of money or hide a lot of money through crypto.”

Warren warned Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen in a letter last Wednesday that Russian actors could use cryptocurrency as a tool to circumvent sanctions.

“Strict enforcement of sanctions compliance in the cryptocurrency industry is essential given that digital assets, which allow entities to circumvent the traditional financial system, can increasingly be used as a tool to evade sanctions,” Warren said in the letterwhich was also signed by Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Mark Warner, Banking Committee Chairman Sherrod Brown, and Armed Services Committee Chairman Jack Reed.

Republican lawmakers have also expressed concern that Russians could use cryptocurrencies to evade sanctions.

“Cryptocurrency is coming in here,” Senator Lindsey Graham said last week. “While you sanction the [Russian] central bank, which is a good thing, I worry about how cryptocurrency could be used by Russians to stay afloat.”

But a Treasury Department official Recount NBC News Tuesday that Russians will not find cryptocurrency an effective tool to evade sanctions.

“It will be extremely difficult to evade our sanctions without being detected,” the anonymous official told NBC News. “Treasury has significantly increased its ability to track virtual currency transactions through partnerships across the [federal government] and with the private sector.

Coinbase, the largest cryptocurrency exchange in the United States, announcement On Monday, it blocked 25,000 accounts linked to Russian individuals and entities that the company believed were “engaging in illicit activities”.

Coinbase Chief Legal Officer Paul Grewal explained that cryptocurrency transactions are “traceable, permanent, and public” and that digital assets “have properties that naturally deter common sanctions-busting approaches.”

President Joe Biden signed a Executive Decree Directing the federal government on Wednesday to create assessments and action plans to mitigate the risks that the illicit use of digital currencies poses to the financial and national security sectors.


Biden’s order also accelerates the research and development of an official U.S. Central Bank digital currency “if issuance is deemed to be in the national interest.”

Original location: Putin Overestimated His Ability to Evade Sanctions With Cryptocurrency, Says FBI Boss

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