Russian Central Bank Links Crypto Transactions With Money Laundering

The Central Bank of Russia (CBR) published a new set of rules for suspicious transactions, Russian finance publication RBC reported on Feb. 17. The update broadly categorizes any cryptocurrency-linked transaction as a potential money laundering risk.

The bank issued an update to directive 375-P, which lists all signs of suspicious activity that may be linked to money laundering. This is the first such update since 2012, when the initial regulations were introduced.

The manual was developed in collaboration with the Federal Service for Financial Monitoring (Rosfinmonitoring). A central bank representative explained that this was done to “add new schemes of conducting unusual operations, with consideration to the modern developments in financial markets.”

The head of the central bank had previously stated that the number of possible risk factors should be decreased. Like in other countries, if a bank or another financial service provider identifies certain transactions as suspicious, they may freeze the suspect’s account or shut it down completely in severe cases.

Cryptocurrencies are a risk

Though the list may have been consolidated, the regulators added a broad clause that considers any cryptocurrency-linked activity as a potential risk.

Within the same framework, cash operations require several caveats to be considered as suspicious. For example, if a physical person regularly cashes out most of the money received from a legal entity.

For cryptocurrencies, any activity that can be identified as buying or selling them will be considered a money laundering risk. This generally involves deposits and withdrawals from known exchanges.

This move comes as Russian legislators still continue making amendments  to the digital financial asset law, which was proposed in early 2018. The regulators’ stance toward cryptocurrency seems to have taken a turn for the worse recently, as nationwide bans on their use for payment are being considered.