A local representative for the major crypto exchange has reportedly met with Russia’s financial intelligence unit, Rosfin; with officials asking the exchange to hand over client data to “help them fight crime.” Permission to hand over data was granted by a regional head of the exchange, Reuters reported today.
At the meeting, which took place in Moscow in April 2021; Binance’s representative was asked to provide the Russian government with client data such as names and addresses of users, the report said.
According to the report, Binance’s head of Eastern Europe and Russia, Gleb Kostarev; consented to handing over client data when asked by the company representative present in the meeting; telling his colleague that he didn’t have “much of a choice.”
The meeting reportedly happened as a result of a work done by Rosfin to trace bitcoin (BTC) worth “millions of dollars” that had been raised by imprisoned Russian opposition politician Alexei Navalny, Reuters reported; citing “a person familiar with the matter.”
According to Navalny, the donations are used to finance efforts to expose corruption among Russia’s top government officials; including president Vladimir Putin.
Binance’s Kostarev did not comment on the article. However, a representative for the crypto exchange told Reuters it has never been contacted by Russia regarding Navalny. Cryptonews.com has reached out to Binance for a comment.
Still, the exchange admitted that it was “actively seeking compliance in Russia” before the war in Ukraine broke out. It added that this requires it to respond to “appropriate requests from regulators and law enforcement agencies.”
Legal representatives for the exchange further said that “active engagement with the Russian government has now stopped due to the conflict.”
It has been widely reported that Binance for some time has sought to gain a stronger foothold in the Russian crypto trading market. In January this year; the exchange announced that it had hired former Bank of Russia executive Olga Goncharova as its head of government relations in the country.
At the same time, Binance also took similar steps in Ukraine; hiring the former government official Kyrylo Khomiakov as its local director there.
Binance has continued to operate in Russia after the war despite requests from the Ukrainian government to ban Russian users. Binance is also one of just a few global exchanges that offer BTC and USDT trading against Russian rubles. However, as reported yesterday, Binance announced that; due to restrictive measures being placed against Russia; it is required to limit services for Russian nationals or natural persons residing in Russia; or legal entities established in Russia, that have cryptoassets exceeding the value of EUR 10,000 (USD 10,900).