Coinbase blocks 25 000 crypto wallets linked to Russia users

That it believes to be engaging in illicit activity. 
Image: Tiffany Hagler-Geard/Bloomberg

Cryptocurrency trading platform Coinbase Global Inc. said it blocked over 25 000 wallet addresses related to Russian individuals or entities that it believes to be engaging in illicit activity.

The blocked addresses represent about 0.2% of Coinbase’s 11.4 million monthly transacting users, based on 2021 data. In a company blog, Paul Grewal, Coinbase’s chief legal officer, said the largest US crypto exchange has banned access for sanctioned individuals and is using blockchain analytics to identify addresses potentially linked to them, which it also adds to an internal blocklist.

“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,” Grewal wrote. “We shared them with the government to further support sanctions enforcement.”

As Russia began its invasion of Ukraine, the Biden administration asked crypto exchanges to help ensure that Russian individuals and organizations aren’t using virtual currencies to avoid sanctions leveled on them by Washington, Bloomberg News reported, citing people with knowledge of the matter.

Major crypto exchanges including Coinbase and Binance have said they will comply with government mandates to restrict sanctioned individuals, but won’t ban all Russian users. Brian Armstrong, Coinbase’s Chief Executive Officer, earlier said some ordinary Russians are using crypto as a “lifeline now that their currency has collapsed.”

© 2022 Bloomberg

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