Coinbase says it’s currently blocking 25,000 cryptocurrency addresses linked to Russian people or entities, defending itself against claims that Russia could evade sanctions with crypto. In a blog post published yesterday, chief legal officer Paul Grewal outlined how the financial exchange is complying with new rules imposed amid the ongoing invasion of Ukraine. That includes using “sophisticated blockchain analytics” to identify accounts that are indirectly linked to banned users.
Coinbase indicated that the 25,000 blocked accounts were “related to Russian individuals or entities we believe to be engaging in illicit activity.” It didn’t specify when precisely they’d been blocked or how many of the restrictions were related to the current sanctions — in one example, for instance, Coinbase cited a 2020 sanction against a specific Russian national with 1,200 potentially linked accounts.
“Sanctions play a vital role in promoting national security and deterring unlawful aggression, and Coinbase fully supports these efforts by government authorities,” said Grewal. While crypto wallets can be anonymous and don’t require dealing with traditional banks, he points out that transactions are “traceable, permanent, and public” — which can potentially make it easier to crack down on illicit accounts, preventing them from buying or selling cryptocurrency through a service like Coinbase….