Binance, the world’s largest cryptocurrency exchange, is considering whether to completely withdraw its services from Russia, as per reports.
A Binance spokesperson told The Wall Street Journal that the exchange was weighing different options in regard to Russia, “including a full exit.” The report followed Binance earlier this week, blocking clients in Russia from utilizing cryptocurrencies other than rubles on its P2P platform.
Also last week, the Journal reported that Binance was allowing considerable ruble trading volumes involving sanctioned Russian banks — which put the exchange in a legally tricky position. That report came on the heels of the U.S. Justice Department’s probes into whether the global exchange had been used by Russians to bypass U.S. sanctions, according to a report by Bloomberg in May.
Earlier this month, U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren asked the DOJ in a tweet to examine any potential breaches of sanctions against Russia by Binance. She added, “We need stronger crypto regulations to rein in illicit finance.”
Multiple countries, including the United States and the European Union, have imposed massive and unprecedented sanctions against Russia following its unprovoked military aggression against Ukraine.
These ever-tighter restrictive measures have specifically targeted Russia’s central bank and affluent individuals, limiting the nation’s access to foreign currency reserves and its ability to change Russian rubles to other global fiat currencies.
Besides Binance, other crypto exchanges, such as ByBit and OKX, also recently removed certain banking institutions from their platform in an effort to comply with United States sanctions.
Binance’s Growing Legal, Regulatory Pains
Binance has had quite a long year. The exchange finds itself in the crosshairs of several U.S. regulators, with the Commodities Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) first lodging a complaint against the company in March.
The Securities and Exchange Commission sued Binance, Binance.US, and Binance CEO Changpeng Zhao for allegedly violating securities laws.
Binance also faces an investigation by French authorities for offenses including “aggravated money laundering.” The exchange has been forced to withdraw operating license applications in the Netherlands, Austria, and Cyprus after failing to receive regulatory approval.
Earlier this week, payment giants MasterCard and Visa terminated their partnership with Binance as the exchange grapples with legal challenges in the U.S.