Bittrex Returning Crypto Funds to Iranian Users After 2-Year Freeze

Crypto exchange Bittrex will give frozen holdings back to its Iranian users, which the exchange suspended two years ago due to the requirements of United States’ regulators.

Bittrex’s Iran-based users began receiving letters from the exchange that promise to return them the funds frozen back in 2017, according to a Nov. 8 tweet published by Bittrex user Ziya Sadr.

At the time, the U.S. Treasury Office of Foreign Control (OFAC) required that Bittrex disable Iranian users’ accounts as it was not permitted to operate in countries sanctioned by the U.S.

In the letter, Bittrex revealed that it received permission to let its Iranian customers withdraw their frozen funds to another exchange, following an application filed with U.S. regulators in May 2018. However, users can only withdraw their holdings to an exchange or a wallet, which are not associated with countries sanctioned by the U.S., such as Iran. The letter states:

“In accordance with US law and the license granted to us by OFAC, you may only withdraw your funds to an exchange or hosted wallet that 1) is not located in Iran, Syria, Cuba, or the Crimea Region of Ukraine; 2) is not subject to the jurisdiction of the US Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Asset Control; and 3) is not currently subject to any US-based sanctions.”

As Bittrex noted in the letter, users should complete the procedure of withdrawal by March 15, 2020. Moreover, those users whose balance is below the minimum withdrawal amount in the wallet will not be able to withdraw, and the exchange may require its users to undergo additional identification procedures in order to get back their funds.

Bittrex is not the only cryptocurrency trading platform that deactivated its Iranian users’ accounts. In late May, peer-to-peer cryptocurrency exchange LocalBitcoins banned users living in Iran, citing compliance with financial regulations in Finland, where LocalBitcoins is based.

Crypto exchanges Coinbase and Binance also do not currently support users based in Iran.

In mid-October, Bittrex International, the Malta-based international unit of Bittrex, announced that it will cease operations in Venezuela and 30 other countries. In an email, Bittrex International informed its entire user base in Venezuela that it will stop its services for users in the country without citing a clear reason for the action.

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