Russian authorities are drawing up plans to allow cops to confiscate any cryptocurrency assets linked with crime.
The Ministry of Internal Affairs and other law enforcement agencies are developing proposals for the seizure of cryptocurrencies and other virtual assets from criminals, reports Russian news outlet RBC.
The legal murkiness surrounding crypto in Russia currently hampers law enforcement’s efforts to confiscate digital assets.
Alena Zelenovskaya, head of criminal and administrative law practice at NSA Amuleks, said: “The trend of a constant increase in the number of crimes using virtual assets dictate the need to develop mechanisms for legal regulation and control over the circulation of virtual assets.”
Konstantin Golikov, co-owner and CEO of the Dailyrich.ru platform, told RBC that cryptocurrencies in Russia are a grey area.
He added: “In order to be confiscated, they must be recognised at the legislative level either as a commodity or a cash equivalent.
“If law enforcement agencies begin to discuss the forfeiture of cryptocurrency, then in fact they are launching a mechanism for legalising cryptocurrency in the territory of Russia.
“But, in my opinion, the Bank of Russia will seriously resist this.”
Security experts have spoken of their concerns that crypto can be used by organised crime groups and terrorists to transfer and launder illicit cash, and blackmailers often demand ransoms are paid in Bitcoin.
Last month, a Russian nuclear researcher was jailed for three years for illegally mining cryptocurrency at work.
Andrei Rybkin and two other workers were sentenced over a string of offences including propagating viruses and gaining illegal access to information by using a professional position, according to Latvian-based Russian news website Meduza.
The men exploited unused computers and a LAN to mine cryptocurrency between May and September 2017, often at night.