Today, March 7, the largest crypto exchange in the U.S. Coinbase announced that it has blocked over 25,000 addresses linked to Russian persons or entities.
“Today, Coinbase blocks over 25,000 addresses related to Russian individuals or entities we believe to be engaging in illicit activity, many of which we have identified through our own proactive investigations.” The blog read.
The move came after the exchange conducted an advanced blockchain analysis, proactively identifying over 1,200 additional addresses which it added to its internal blocklist. They also said that they had shared the said addresses with the U.S. governments ‘to further support the sanctions’.
Last week, Coinbase’s CEO stated that they would comply with government sanction rules against Russia, further noting that zeroing in on individual accounts when required to do so was also an option.
Today’s announcement thus cements the exchange’s commitment to complying with sanctions, even as more players including the United Kingdom, Singapore, European Union, Canada, and Japan double down their sanction enforcement rules.
“Coinbase fully supports these efforts by government authorities. Sanctions are serious interventions, and governments are best placed to decide when, where, and how to apply them.” The announcement read on.
Coinbase currently implements a multi-layered global sanctions program that involves detecting sanctioned actors applying for new accounts, detecting evading entities, and preventing potential threats from individuals outside of Coinbase.
Coinbase is the first global Centralized Exchange (CEX) to publicly declare support for pre-emptive bans on Russian Individual crypto accounts, pitting it against other players including Binance and Kraken.
Last week, Binance CEO Changpeng Zhao (CZ) discredited calls to shut down Russian accounts regardless of not being on the list of sanctioned entities. According to him, while Binance applies the same sanctions rules as the banks, according to international standards, a call to block all Russian addresses indiscriminately was unfair. “We don’t think it is right for businesses or platforms to unilaterally decide to freeze populations of users’ assets,” CZ had said in a blog last week.
He further argued that it was blinkered for governments to zero in on crypto given that ‘there is probably only less than 0.3% of the global net worth in crypto today’ compare to banks which hold 99.7% of the money. “Even if you block all of that, does it even move the needle?” he had asked. “No. Instead of focusing on Bitcoin, it may be far more effective to focus on banks, oil/gas, or other means.”