Russia’s Ministry Of Internal Affairs Proposes Criminalizing Unregistered Crypto Operations

News, Regulation | August 28, 2018 By:

The Russian Ministry of Internal Affairs is reportedly considering making all unregistered cryptocurrency operations in the country a criminally-liable offense.

According to documents obtained by Russian newspaper Izvestia, the Internal Affairs Ministry’s Main Directorate for Drugs Control (GUKON) has asked the Ministry of Finance for an amendment to current tax regulations that require persons or entities to register with state tax authorities if they want to conduct crypto transactions. The Internal Affairs Ministry is also seeking an amendment to legalize only registered operations with open source cryptocurrencies such as bitcoin, ethereum, and others.

While the Ministry of Finance has reportedly endorsed the proposed legislative measures, the Ministry of Economic Development has expressed a sceptical stance. Savva Shipov, deputy chief of the Ministry of Economic Development, claims that it is “still early” to consider the criminalization of cryptocurrency operations. Shipov noted that Russian law currently lacks any clear regulations on crypto transactions.

“Discussions of monitoring for criminal use should not come until after the draft bill has established rules against it,” said Shipov.

In May of this year, the Russian parliament approved the first reading of new laws regulating the crypto industry. The bill, “On Digital Financial Assets,” provides legal definitions and protection of cryptocurrencies. It also explicitly defines the Russian ruble as the only legal tender in the country. The adoption of the legislation, however, has been delayed.

The position of the Ministry of Economic Development was supported by Artem Tolkachev, a legal expert and CEO at Sputnik DLT. In an email to Cointelegraph, Tolkachev said that “it is too early to speak about criminalization of illicit [unregistered] cryptocurrency operations,” since the necessary legislation has not been established.

“If such initiatives as criminalization of cryptocurrency will gain force in the future, this will have negative impact on real projects, that will as a result look for another jurisdiction,” Tolkachev said. “In fact large crypto operators are not working through Russian structures already, operating through foreign setups instead.”