Russian lawmakers are working on new legislation that would allow the government to confiscate cryptocurrencies, according to a senior official.
Russian Prosecutor General Igor Krasnov claimed that the government is now developing a set of amendments to the country’s criminal code to allow authorities to seize crypto obtained from illegal activity, local news agency TASS reported.
Speaking at a conference of prosecutors’ offices of European countries on Wednesday, Krasnov stressed that cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin (BTC) have been increasingly used for corruption and bribery. The official said that cryptocurrency is also a tool for laundering embezzled budget funds.
“The criminal usage of cryptocurrencies poses a serious challenge in our country,” Krasnov said. He claimed that Russia’s adopted crypto law “On Digital Financial Assets” (DFA) has played a crucial role in tackling this problem, but new criminal code amendments would bring additional protection. “This would allow the application of restrictive measures and confiscation of virtual assets,” Krasnov stated.
According to some local industry experts, no amount of legislation would make it possible for the government to actually seize crypto assets. Nikita Soshnikov, a former senior lawyer at Deloitte CIS and director of Alfacash that it is “obvious that digital assets kept in wallets would be impossible to confiscate like any other type of assets.” “However, there is already one landmark case where FSB officers were found guilty for accepting bribes, and the court formally seized 0.1 and 4.70235 BTC as state revenue,” he noted.
Soshnikov said that Russia started developing proposals for confiscating crypto back in 2019, years before the DFA law was adopted. “The Prosecutor General’s Office remains the key stakeholder of this project, and in such context, the current statement is a mere confirmation of agreed plans,” he added.
Formerly a deputy chairman of Russia’s investigative committee, Krasnov became the country’s prosecutor general in early 2020. Since the appointment, Krasnov has been a vocal opponent of crypto. Last year, he claimed that cybercrime in Russia is often facilitated through crypto and has seen a 25-fold increase since 2015. Last October, Krasnov said that Russian civil servants would be required to declare crypto assets on an equal basis with other assets.
Krasnov’s renewed efforts to fight crypto-enabled corruption in Russia come months after United States President Joe Biden’s administration sanctioned him for prosecuting Russian opposition and anti-corruption leader Alexei Navalny.
According to local investigations, Krasnov has himself been involved in some controversy related to corruption.