A local representative for the large crypto exchange Binance has apparently visited with Russia’s financial intelligence unit, Rosfin, with officials pressing the exchange to hand over client data to “help them combat crime.” Reuters reported today that a regional exchange head had approved permission for data to be transferred.
An official from Binance was requested to offer the Russian government with customer data, including as the names and addresses of users, at a meeting in Moscow in April 2021, the report stated.
During a meeting with a representative of the firm, Binance’s head of Eastern Europe and Russia, Gleb Kostarev, agreed to pass over customer data, telling his colleague that he didn’t have “much of a choice.”
Rosfin’s efforts to track down “millions of dollars’ worth” of bitcoin (BTC) raised by imprisoned Russian opposition politician Alexei Navalny apparently led to the meeting, according to Reuters, citing “a source familiar with the subject.”
Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny said the money is used to fund investigations into corruption in Russia’s highest authorities, including Vladimir Putin.
Kostarev, the CEO of Binance, did not respond to the article. Russia has never contacted the crypto exchange about Navalny, according to a spokesperson. Cryptonews.com has reached out to Binance for a comment.
As a matter of fact, the exchange confessed that it had been “actively pursuing Russia’s compliance” before to this year’s conflict in Ukraine. As a result of this, “relevant inquiries from regulators and law enforcement authorities” must be addressed, according to the statement.
In addition, legal counsel for both sides stated that “active contact with the Russian government has now ended owing to the crisis.”
According to a number of reports, Binance has long been interested in expanding its Russian cryptocurrency trading market presence. Olga Goncharova, a former Bank of Russia executive, was appointed as the exchange’s director of government relations in Russia in January of this year.
At the same time, Binance also hired a former government official in Ukraine as its local director, Kyrylo Khomiakov.
Despite the Ukrainian government’s demands to restrict Russian users, Binance has continued to function in Russia following the war. Another unique feature is the ability to trade BTC and USDT for Russian rubles, which is only available on Binance. Binance, on the other hand, declared yesterday that it must limit its services to Russian citizens or natural people resident in Russia or legal companies incorporated in Russia who have cryptoassets over EUR 10,000 owing to restrictive actions against Russia. This was reported yesterday (USD 10,900).