According to the NYT, Kraken would be placed under investigation by the US Treasury Department for alleged violations of sanctions imposed on Iran.
Kraken circumvents Iran sanctions
The New York Times, citing some sources inside the US Treasury Department, reported two days ago that the cryptocurrency exchange, Kraken, would be placed under investigation for allowing the transfer of digital currencies to Iran, despite sanctions imposed by the US government preventing it.
JUST IN: 🇺🇸 US Department of Treasury is investigating #crypto exchange Kraken for alleged sanction violations in Iran, NYTimes reports.
— Watcher.Guru (@WatcherGuru) July 26, 2022
According to the US newspaper, the Treasury Department has been investigating the exchange founded by Jesse Powell for more than two years. When asked by Coindesk about the matter, the exchange’s Chief Legal Officer, Marco Santori, declined to make specific statements about the allegations received from US authorities, but also said that the company is absolutely in compliance with all the laws of the country.
“Kraken has robust compliance measures in place and continues to grow its compliance team to match its business growth. Kraken closely monitors compliance with sanctions laws and, as a general matter, reports to regulators even potential issues”.
US authorities, according to some rumors, are also tightly monitoring other exchanges, such as Binance, precisely because of the possibility that they may be offering Iranian nationals the opportunity to circumvent sanctions, especially now that the same thing may be happening with Russian nationals.
Exchanges operating in unauthorized countries
In this regard, Senator Elizabeth Warren proposed a specific bill in March that could target precisely those exchanges that allow sanctions to be circumvented through cryptocurrency transfers in countries, such as Russia, Iran, or North Korea, where harsh sanctions are in place to target authoritarian regimes.
This is not the first time Kraken has been investigated. Last year, the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) imposed a $1.25 million penalty on 28 September 2021 against the company, on charges of illegally margin trading retail commodities with digital resources, including Bitcoin, without having the relevant authorization, as a futures broker.
The New York Times also reported in its piece in October that the Treasury Department said cryptocurrencies “potentially reduce the effectiveness of US sanctions”. And that is why it reportedly issued a 30-page compliance manual recommending that cryptocurrency companies use geolocation tools to eliminate customers in regions affected by international sanctions.
Continuing on the topic of sanctions, in March Jesse Powell had been one of the few to decisively reject the proposal called for by the Ukrainian government to exclude Russian citizens from exchanges, precisely to avoid the possibility of circumventing sanctions. Meanwhile, Coinbase had accepted the invitation initiated by Ukraine’s minister of technological innovation, Mykhailo Fedorov, blocking an estimated 25,000 Russian users last April.