Goodbye Moscow, for good? After removing Russian clients holding more than 10,000 euros from its platform ( April 2022 ), and then lifting their restrictions ( May 2023 ), Binance’s waltz-hesitation seems to be heading towards a definitive banishment of Russian clients. The exchange platform is on the verge of withdrawing completely from this market.

Russia, a Headache for Binance

In recent weeks, revelations have been linked to the activity of Russian actors sanctioned on Binance, whose platform would serve as a relay to circumvent the sanctions imposed by the EU and the United States.

Last week, a Wall Street Journal investigation revealed that several Russian crypto lenders were using Binance’s peer-to-peer (P2P) platform to exchange rubles for bitcoins or other cryptocurrencies.

As of Friday, Binance logically announced the withdrawal of these five players from its P2P service. Among these lenders are notably the banks Rosbank, Tinkoff Bank, and Sberbank, targeted by Western sanctions for their involvement in the Ukrainian conflict or their support for the regime of Vladimir Putin.

On Tuesday, August 22, the Wall Street Journal already drew an investigation into the transfers of Russian customers abroad. In all, more than 428 million dollars were transferred, with the Binance platform as the main relay. An amount that represents 5% of the trading volume on Binance P2P…

The investigation did not fail to react to the Russian authorities, starting with the Federal Financial Monitoring Service ( Rosfinmonitoring ), which declared that it would strengthen the control of cryptocurrency transactions and “sanction platforms that do not respect not the rules in force”

Since January, the US Department of Justice has been investigating Binance’s role in circumventing sanctions against Russia

Binance is also under investigation by the US Department of Justice (DoJ) National Security Division, which suspects it of acting as a conduit for sanctions-busting. The investigation was revealed by Bloomberg in May.

We knew little about this investigation until a note from the US Treasury (FinCEN) said a little more. According to this note, Binance would have been the first counterparty of the Russian exchange Bitzlato between May 2018 and September 2022, with at least $346 million in flows identified, as we reported then.

Remember that the boss of Bitzlato, Anatoly Legkodymov, was arrested in Miami in January and then charged in the wake of US justice.

Faced with this regulatory black cloud, Binance has decided to completely leave Russia, a strategic market for the platform. In April 2023, Binance made a noticeable comeback in Russia by allowing credit card deposits from Russian banks again, after suspending them for several months.

Binance has not yet officially confirmed its departure from Russia, but its spokesperson added in his interview with the WSJ that the platform cooperates with the competent authorities and respects the applicable laws in the countries where it operates.

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