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Binance suspends accounts linked to senior Russian officials’ relatives

According to Bloomberg, Binance, the world’s largest cryptocurrency exchange, has blocked many accounts tied to relatives of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s administration officials. As a result of Russia’s military assault on neighboring Ukraine, sanctions are continuing to fall on the country.

Polina Kovaleva, the stepdaughter of Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, and Elizaveta Peskova, the daughter of Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov, are among those who have been denied admission in the two months since Russian forces crossed the Ukrainian border.

Kirill Malofeev, the son of Russian oligarch Konstantin Malofeev, was also barred from Binance. Washington accuses the latter of aiding pro-Russian separatists in Ukraine. Malofeev, who is sanctioned by the US and EU and is wanted by Kyiv authorities for his role in the Donbas conflict, is a Putin admirer.

The announcement of the closed accounts comes after Binance limited its services to Russian customers earlier this month in order to comply with the European Union’s current round of sanctions. Russian nationals, residents, and legal companies with crypto assets worth more over €10,000 ($10,800) on the platform are subject to the limitations.

Binance CEO Changpeng Zhao announced in early March that the exchange was freezing the accounts of sanctioned Russians, but that barring all Russians would be “unethical.” Simultaneously, the leadership downplayed worries that cryptocurrency could aid Moscow in evading Western sanctions.

When Peskova sought to use Binance through a third-party brokerage on March 3, the exchange barred her. The US Treasury Department sanctioned her the following week, according to the report.

On March 24, the day after she was sanctioned by the United Kingdom, Kovaleva’s account was shut down. The US Treasury identified Malofeev on April 20 and his Binance accounts were restricted this week, according to the business.

According to the platform’s global director of sanctions, the crypto exchange will continue its attempts to uncover other people linked to sanctioned individuals. What makes us unique is that our compliance screening procedures are ‘proactive,’ trying to discover and deter financial crime risk before any regulatory or legal action is taken against these persons or businesses, Chagri Poyraz says

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