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Crypto Firms Sanctioned: The 13 Organizations Blacklisted by US for Russia Links

Published March 26, 2024 2:22 PM
James Morales
Published March 26, 2024 2:22 PM
By James Morales
Verified by Peter Henn

Key Takeaways

  • The US Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) issued sanctions against 13 Russia-linked crypto firms.
  • As well as crypto exchanges based in Russia and the UAE, OFAC targeted blockchain builders and companies linked to Echelon Union.
  • Echelon Union is a Russian technology conglomerate with close ties to the Kremlin.

On Monday, March 25, the Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) announced sanctions  against a host of Russia-tied crypto firms.

While the largest Russian crypto exchanges are already on OFAC’s naughty list, the latest additions cast the sanctions net further afield. The 13 organizations listed below span various Russian and non-Russian entities across different Web3 sectors:

  • Atomyze
  • B-Crypto
  • Bitfingroup
  • Bitpapa
  • Crypto Explorer
  • Cybersecurity Laboratory
  • Echelon Companies
  • Key Information Systems
  • Lighthouse
  • Masterchain
  • Net Exchange
  • OOO Web3 Integrator
  • Web3 Technology

Crypto Exchanges

Bitpapa and Crypto Explorer are both UAE-based crypto exchanges with strong ties to the Russian market.

Firstly, OFAC sanctioned Bitpapa for offering peer-to-peer cryptocurrency exchange services to Russian nationals.

Likewise, Crypto Explorer provides conversions between cryptocurrencies, rubles, and dirhams.  OFAC said the company offers cash services at its offices in Moscow and Dubai, including loading funds onto credit cards associated with sanctioned Russian banks.

Meanwhile, Netexchange was sanctioned for allowing digital payments in rubles and virtual currencies to OFAC-designated entities. Timur Bukanov, and the Estonian company Bitfingroup, which OFAC alleges is a front for Bukanov’s financial dealings, were also sanctioned. 

Blockchain Builders

Several of the companies recently added to the OFAC list are blockchain developers that provide services to sanctioned Russian banks and other companies.

These include Atomyze, which tokenizes precious metals and diamonds for several OFAC-designated Russian corporations, as well as B-Crypto, a Moscow-based startup that uses cryptocurrencies to power cross-border settlements for Rosbank.

Likewise, Masterchain was sanctioned for its role in developing digital asset issuance solutions for Russian banks. Meanwhile, the Office targeted Lighthouse for powering cash-backed Russian digital asset deals.

Echelon Companies

OFAC targeted many of the recently sanctioned entities because of their relationship with Echelon Union for Science and Technology. This is a technology conglomerate with close ties to the Kremlin.

Echelon Innovations, Project Bureau Echelon and Cybersecurity Laboratory were also blacklisted by OFAC. This is because, according to the Office, they are “owned or controlled by, or having acted or purported to act for or on behalf of, directly or indirectly, Echelon Union”.

Meanwhile, OFAC sanctioned the nominally independent Echelon Training Center and Key Information Systems. This is because they appear to operate on behalf of, or in close collaboration with, Echelon Union.

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