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Russian Public Officials Banned From Holding Cryptocurrency

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Russia’s Ministry of Labor has informed officials of federal and local government bodies that they are prohibited from owning cryptocurrency and must dispose of any holdings.

A document, published on the Ministry’s website and dated December 16, 2020, indicates the directive is aimed at preventing corruption. The news was first reported by Russian crypto news outlet Forklog.

The letter states that public officials in Russia on federal and local levels, including Bank of Russia board members and chairs of government-owned corporations, as well their spouses and under-age children, are not allowed to own cryptocurrencies and any digital assets issued outside the country.

The letter refers to the law on digital assets that came into force this January. The law includes a number of amendments to other Russian laws, including that one that prohibits government officials from opening accounts in foreign banks and buying financial instruments from foreign countries. Now this list also includes “digital assets issued in accordance with the foreign law and cryptocurrencies.”

Government officials must now divest themselves of any digital assets by April 1, 2021.

The rules for disclosure, however, are not that strict yet. Public officials don’t have to report owning digital assets, along with other kinds of property, in their anti-corruption declarations for the year 2020, as this is the first year when the new law came into force.

It’s not clear how many of the government officials in Russia might own cryptocurrencies, as there have been no public reports on the matter.

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