Binance, the world’s largest cryptocurrency exchange, has received extensive media notice in recent months.
Reuters stated that in response to the Ukrainian government’s call to freeze all Russian cryptocurrency accounts, Binance would block Russian customer accounts targeted by sanctions but not all of them.
The crypto exchange was not alone in its stance on account freezes, as numerous other prominent exchanges followed suit.
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Refuting The ‘Special Report’
On Friday, Binance denied a Reuters allegation that it had agreed to transfer user data to the Russian government in April last year.
Reuters published a “Special Report” claiming that it had agreed with a Russian government request to reveal user names and addresses related with Bitcoin donations to opposition figure Alexei Navalny.
Navalny ran for president in 2018 and was later poisoned – with indications that the Russian Federal Security Service was involved.
The FSB is in charge of counterterrorism, counterintelligence, and military surveillance. It is located at the former KGB headquarters on Lubyanka Square in downtown Moscow.
According to the Reuters article, Russia’s intelligence agency entrusted with countering money laundering, Rosfin, was attempting to trace millions of cash raised in Bitcoin by Navalny.
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Breaking Under Pressure?
Gleb Kostarev, Binance’s head of Russia and Eastern Europe, reportedly agreed to the request, telling a business partner that he “didn’t have much choice.”
According to Reuters, the crypto exchange has continued to operate in Russia following Ukraine’s incursion. This is despite the fact that other payment platforms, such as PayPal, have suspended operations in the country.
Kostarev said on his Facebook page, “It is a complete fabrication that I or the company provided Navalny’s or users data to Rosfin or the FSB.”
Binance clarified many of the “misrepresented” allegations in the Reuters report in a blog post, stating that any claims that it shared any user data, including that of Navalny, with Russian FSB-controlled agencies or Russian authorities are “categorically false.”
The world's biggest crypto exchange company is certainly not happy with the Reuters report. (Image credit: Binance)
Binance Clears Its Name
In a statement, it said:
“Any suggestion that Binance exchanged user data, including that of Alexei Navalny, with Russian FSB-controlled authorities or regulators is simply incorrect… Prior to the conflict, Binance’s presence in Russia was comparable to that of any other foreign corporation – from banks to fast food businesses.”
The company said on Thursday that it will restrict Russian account users with a balance of more above €10,000 to withdrawal-only mode.
“On these accounts, no deposits or trading will be authorized. Additionally, the limit applies to spot, futures, custodial wallets, as well as staked and earned deposits,” Binance said.
Meanwhile, Binance announced its intention to file a legal complaint with Reuters.
Featured image from Reuters, chart from TradingView.com