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EU Bans Cryptocurrency Providers Working with Defense-Industrial Complex in Russia

European legislators have approved a 14th set of sanctions aimed at key sectors within the Russian economy, such as trade, finance and energy. These sanctions are intended to make it significantly harder to bypass existing European Union (EU) restrictions.

In a press release dated June 24, 2024, the EU Council announced that the recent package includes restrictive measures against an additional 116 individuals and entities allegedly responsible for activities that compromise or jeopardize the independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine. According to a Reuters report, with this latest addition, the sanctions list now encompasses more than 2,200 entities.

To further prevent the evasion of these sanctions, the council also prohibited transactions involving crypto providers based outside the European Union. This ban targets entities that facilitate transactions supporting Russia’s defense-industrial base, particularly those involving the transfer, export, sale, transport or supply to Russia of dual-use technology and goods, sensitive items, ammunition, firearms and battlefield essentials.

Details on how European nations intend to keep an eye on the sector for possible infractions are still hazy, with some experts stating that it will necessitate extensive due diligence measures. This comes after the EU Parliament and Council recently agreed to tougher rules for cryptocurrency companies to bolster antimoney laundering protocols in the industry. Crypto companies will have to check up on their consumers more carefully starting in January 2025, especially if they are transacting €1,000 ($1,069) or more. The goal is to stop people from using cryptocurrency for illicit purposes or to get around sanctions.

The EU unveiled a fresh set of sanctions on May 27, 2024, that specifically targets those accountable for grave human rights abuses, repression of civil society, democratic opposition, and the weakening of Russia’s democracy and rule of law. This paradigm was created after opposition politician Alexei Navalny passed away, in reaction to the systematic and increasing repression occurring in Russia.

The sanctions under this new framework include travel bans and asset freezes for listed entities and individuals, such as the Federal Penitentiary Service of Russia, as well as various prosecutors and judges implicated in politically motivated accusations and detentions. The package also places trade limitations related to technology and equipment that could be used for monitoring communications or internal repression.

These actions are part of the European Union’s ongoing efforts to address and counteract the accelerating repression and human rights abuses in Russia. The measures aim to exert pressure on those responsible for such actions, and to uphold international law and human rights standards.

These regulatory developments in the EU send a message to industry actors across the board, such as Riot Blockchain Inc. (NASDAQ: RIOT), to tighten their KYC policies so that the companies can avoid being sanctioned for having clients that use their investments to fund activities that are subject to international bans or sanctions.

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