Blockchain security and forensics firm Elliptic has been working with authorities to expose crypto wallets affiliated with sanctioned individuals or organizations. The United Kingdom-based company has discovered a wallet with “significant crypto-asset holdings” in the millions of dollars that may be linked to sanctioned Russian officials and oligarchs.
Speaking to Bloomberg on March 14, Elliptic co-founder Tom Robinson said that crypto could be used for sanctions evasion. However, it has been widely reported and generally accepted now that Russia is very unlikely to pivot to crypto assets to circumvent them.
The report did not specify the exact value of the crypto in the wallet it discovered or the nature of the assets it held. Robinson added that the scale of the use of crypto is in question, explaining:
“It’s not proving out realistic that oligarchs can completely bypass sanctions by moving all their wealth into crypto. Crypto is highly traceable. Crypto can and will be used for sanctions evasion, but it’s not the silver bullet.”
Elliptic has already identified more than 400 crypto services that let anonymous users trade digital assets with rubles. It also connected more than 15 million crypto addresses to Russian-related criminal activity.
Robinson added that ruble-related activities on some of these services surged the week before the war broke out. Tornado Cash, which anonymizes Ethereum and ERC-20 transactions, is one such provider that has refused to restrict services or comply with sanctions. “In general, the level of sanction compliance is very high,” Robinson stated in reference to the high profile exchanges such as Coinbase and Binance that have complied with sanction requests from global regulators.
Elliptic has also been tracking crypto donations supporting the Ukrainian humanitarian effort. Its latest update on March 11 at 23.30 UTC revealed that there had been a total of $63.8 million sent to the Ukrainian government and an NGO providing support to the military. Merkel Science has tapped several sources for its report, which shows a much higher figure of $93.6 million in total crypto donations for Ukraine.
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