The head of the Investigative Commission of Belarus has announced that they have seized crypto worth more than 200 million roubles.
Belarus fights the criminal use of crypto
Dmitry Gora, the director of the Investigative Committee of Belarus, sent a warning to the country’s highest officials about the risk that the use of cryptocurrencies for criminal purposes could pose, especially at such a sensitive time, with the war in Ukraine just around the corner.
According to the official, Belarusian law enforcement agencies need to be more specialized and have the legal resources to be able to confiscate digital assets more easily.
Meanwhile, in an interview with the press, he added that the authorities had already confiscated cryptocurrencies worth two hundred million Belarusian roubles since the beginning of the year.
In 2018, Belarus was one of the first countries to approve a regulatory framework to regulate and authorize certain cryptocurrency-related activities. The presidential decree had been very favourable from both a tax and regulatory perspective.
During a speech in March 2021, President Alexander Lukashenko had stated that there would be a crackdown on the country’s cryptocurrency laws, citing China as an example.
But in August, the Belarusian President himself said that the country needed to think about the exploitation of new forms of energy for mining cryptocurrencies, precisely after China’s ban on the activity.
The relationship between Belarus and cryptocurrencies after the outbreak of the Ukraine War
After the outbreak of the war, Belarus, which had always been considered a quasi-satellite state of Putin’s Russia, also had to bear the brunt of some sanctions. For some, cryptocurrencies could be a tool to partially circumvent the weight of these sanctions imposed by the international community.
In April of this year, the Ministry of Justice, based also on indications from the government and the president, in order to stop the widespread use of digital assets for criminal purposes, initiated a simplified procedure that allows the seizure of crypto funds, even if only on the basis of simple clues as to its origin.
This new law is the implementation of a decree by President Lukashenko in early February this year, which ordered the establishment of a special registry for cryptocurrency wallets used for illicit functions.
Many in the government have described cryptocurrencies as “digital junk” and Dmitry Gora, speaking about it during his press conference, replied that:
“Based on this, I set the task: our state needs money to compensate for the damage caused. Let’s think about how to make money out of trash. I will not go into details, but we have learned how to do it… There are mechanisms that allow us to deal with these issues, and quite successfully”.