Amid global companies boycotting Russian residents over the military conflict in Ukraine, some cryptocurrency industry companies are championing the rights of unsanctioned Russian citizens.
Bitfinex, an affiliate of the world’s largest stablecoin provider, Tether (USDT), will not unilaterally freeze the accounts of ordinary Russian customers as part of global sanctions unless forced to do so, a Bitfinex spokesperson told Coin-Crypto on Thursday. .
The representative stressed that Bitfinex has taken appropriate measures against the accounts of Russian users that have been sanctioned. “As with all our customer accounts, we are working to ensure there are no irregular movements or measures that violate applicable international sanctions,” the spokesperson noted.
According to Bitfinex, blocking all ordinary Russians because of the ongoing conflict could be unfair on a human level, as governments’ actions may not speak for individuals, the spokesperson said:
“We believe that a government’s actions do not necessarily represent the wishes of individuals. Unless otherwise directed by the regulatory authorities that govern us, we want to protect the accounts of all our customers.”
The representative declined to comment on Bitfinex’s market in Russia, stating only that “Bitfinex serves Russian customers.”
At the time of writing, Bitfinex’s terms of service read that a “sanctioned person” refers to any person or digital token address explicitly listed in any sanctions list that is directly or indirectly owned 50% or more by any person or group of persons in aggregate with such person. The sanctioned person on Bitfinex also refers to any person who is subject to any government approval or otherwise sanctioned, restricted or sanctioned under applicable economic sanctions, the legal statement said.
Launched in 2012, Bitfinex is one of the world’s largest crypto exchanges, with daily trading volumes amounting to to over $800 million at the time of writing, according to data from CoinGecko. The Virgin Islands-based crypto exchange is known to be the subject of legal disputes in the United States, with Bitfinex and Tether paying a $43 million fine in October 2021 for violations of the U.S. Commodity Exchange Act.
Related: EU ‘takes action’ against Russia using crypto to evade sanctions, finance ministers say
Bitfinex is not the only crypto exchange looking to continue supporting ordinary Russians amid the ongoing global geopolitical troubles. Michael Carter, chief compliance officer at Bittrex, told Coin-Crypto that the crypto exchange is committed to ensuring it continues to comply with sanctions requirements while creating “minimum disruptions for law-abiding traders,” including those in Russia. exchange Exmo also continues to support its Russian customers.
“We’re not going to sanction ordinary people and block their accounts,” said Maria Stankevich, Exmo’s head of business development. However, the exchange will have to comply if the United Kingdom’s Financial Conduct Authority will give them an order to punish ordinary people, she admitted.
Jerry Brito, the executive director of the nonprofit crypto policy advocacy group Coin Center, also announced in early March called for global crypto companies to continue serving unsanctioned Russian people, stating:
Why are crypto exchanges not shutting down the Russians?
In this week’s newsletter I explain and argue that it is the right decision. I also criticize attempts to disgrace exchanges into submission.
You can read and subscribe to it here: https://t.co/BTMd9y4ek5
— Jerry Brito (@jerrybrito) March 7, 2022