Binance, the world’s largest crypto exchange, said it would only freeze the accounts of sanctioned individuals, despite Ukraine’s request to block addresses of all ordinary Russian citizens.
In an interview with Bloomberg on Wednesday, Binance CEO Changpeng Zhao assured that the exchange is fully complying with all international sanctions targeting Russian politicians and oligarchs, but will refrain from blocking access to regular users in Russia. “Binance follows sanctions rules very strictly. Whoever is on the sanctions list, they won’t be able to use our platform, for whoever is not, they can,” he said.
Crypto exchanges have faced increased scrutiny since the West and the EU ramped up efforts to cut Russia off from the rest of the world in response to President Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine last week. Indeed, concerns have been mounting that Russian oligarchs may transfer their assets into cryptocurrencies in an effort to bypass those restrictions. Over the weekend, As such, Ukraine’s Deputy Prime Minster Mykhailo Fedorov said it’s imperative that all major crypto exchanges block any addresses linked to users in Russia, not just the individuals targeted by sanctions.
But, according to Zhao, Binance is not in a position to sanction entire populations of people in the name of geopolitics. “It’s not our decision to make to freeze user accounts. Facebook hasn’t banned Russian users. Google has not blocked off Russia. The U.S. hasn’t done that,” he said, adding that, “on an ethical point of view, many Russians don’t support the war, so we should separate the politicians from the normal people.”
“Crypto is meant to provide greater financial freedom for people across the globe. To unilaterally decide to ban people’s access to their crypto would fly in the face of the reason why crypto exists,” Zhao explained.
Information for this briefing was found via Bloomberg and the sources mentioned. The author has no securities or affiliations related to this organization. Not a recommendation to buy or sell. Always do additional research and consult a professional before purchasing a security. The author holds no licenses.