Coinbase revealed it would keep the list of accounts held by sanctioned people outside Coinbase and share the blocks with governments.
Popular cryptocurrency exchange Coinbase announced blocking access to over 25,000 blockchain wallet addresses linked to Russian people and entities. In what appears like a move in full-throttle support of sanctions against Russia, the company revealed how it works with governments, adding the said addresses were involved in illicit activities.
The company stated that it was committed to blocking access to sanctioned actors after detecting evasion attempts and identifying high-risk behavior. Sanctioned individuals and entities will not be able to open new accounts. Coinbase said it shared all the blocked addresses with the US government. The firm said:
“Today, Coinbase blocks over 25,000 addresses related to Russian individuals or entities we believe to be engaging in illicit activity, many of which we have identified through our own proactive investigations […] once we identified these addresses, we shared them with the government to support sanctions enforcement further.”
Keeps a list of accounts held by sanctioned people outside of Coinbase
According to the company’s blog post, the cryptocurrency exchange checks the information a user provides when opening an account against a list of individuals sanctioned by the United States, United Kingdom, European Union, United Nations, Singapore, Canada, and Japan. Additionally, the company blocks users from sanctioned areas like Crimea, North Korea, Syria, and Iran. The company also revealed it keeps a list of accounts held by sanctioned people outside of Coinbase. The company added:
“When the United States sanctioned a Russian national in 2020, it specifically listed three associated blockchain addresses […] through advanced blockchain analysis, we proactively identified over 1,200 additional addresses potentially associated with the sanctioned individual, which we added to our internal blocklist.”
Opposed a total ban on cryptocurrency use
Coinbase said all the blocked wallets were linked only to sanctioned individuals and entities, not ordinary Russians. The firm’s CEO Brian Armstrong has previously opposed a total ban on cryptocurrency use in Russia, arguing they offered ordinary Russians a tool as the value of the ruble plummets in response to the sanctions. Armstrong said on Twitter last week:
“Some ordinary Russians are using crypto as a lifeline now that their currency has collapsed […] many of them likely opposes what their country is doing, and a ban would hurt them, too. That said, if the US government decides to impose a ban, we will, of course, follow those laws.”
Enhance our overall compliance program and industry compliance standards
A few individuals retain decision-making powers in centralized exchanges like Coinbase. Armstrong has tried to balance aligning with the sanctions and explaining how crypto can’t be used to evade sanctions. Coinbase Chief Legal Officer Paul Grewal wrote:
“We welcome public scrutiny of the crypto industry and will continue working to enhance our overall compliance program and industry compliance standards.”