Report: Russian Ministries Question Bitcoin Criminal Liabilities

May 9, 2016 19:00 UTC

The Ministry of Justice and the Interior Ministry in Russia have – according to reports – questioned the “public danger” that Bitcoin supposedly brings, as proposed by the Russian Ministry of Finance.

Unsubstantiated reports from Russian news outlets quoting prominent Russian news agency Interfax have revealed voices in the Ministry of Justice and the Interior Ministry to question and even oppose the Russian Finance Ministry’s proposal for a bitcoin banning bill.

A source from “the financial and economic block” of the government has reportedly told Interfax that the Ministry of Justice does not agree with some of the wording of the bill proposing a ban on money “surrogates” a term frequently associated with bitcoin and virtual currencies.

The Russian Finance Ministry has frequently made efforts to implement a ban on bitcoin. The authority has even proposed that the use of virtual currencies including Bitcoin be deemed a criminal offense, with imprisonment of up to 7 years, besides large fines imposed on the adopter.

Prominent Moscow-based business daily Vedomosti addresses the topic in its news-in-brief, which reads:

The Ministry [of Justice] believes that there is a need to further study the introduction of criminal liability for individuals and administrative bodies over the issuance and sale of money substitutes since the degree of public danger of the act “is questionable.”

Notably, the source also revealed that doubts surrounding the validity of the Finance Ministry’s narrative of Bitcoin being “dangerous” to the public are shared by the Ministry of Justice General Prosecutor’s office.

Another report from Russian publication Pravo, also puts the spotlight on the subject. The publication also cites an Interfax source to mention the Interior Ministry of Russia, whose representative questioned the criminal liabilities proposed by the Russian Finance Ministry at its council meeting.

Notably, the source also revealed that the Interior Ministry does not consider the control and supervision of cryptocurrencies to be under the purview of the police. The Interior Ministry sees it as a burden on law enforcement, one that would require an increased number of employees and, notably, a distraction that could adversely affect law and order in the state.

The Russian Finance Ministry’s draft law that proposes a ban on bitcoin has recently seen criticism from reviewers postponing its entry into the State Duma – the lower chamber of the Russian Parliament. Furthermore, the deputy director of Rosfinmonitoring (the financial monitoring authority in Russia) recently stated that even if the bitcoin bill was to be passed, there is a possibility in the future wherein authorities could take a different regulatory approach to bitcoin, one different to banning or criminalizing bitcoin use.

Last modified: May 9, 2016 18:06 UTC

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Samburaj is the Editor for CCN, among the earliest and foremost publications covering financial and blockchain news. He has authored over 2,000 articles for CCN. Email him samburaj(@)ccn.com or find him barely tweeting @sambdas