Russian Court Orders Sberbank to Remove Crypto Trading Restrictions

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In Brief
  • Sberbank ordered to return normal services to clients it had blocked for trading bitcoin.

  • Earlier, Sberbank blocked the accounts of a Russian citizen suspecting money laundering.

  • This is a small but important victory for the cryptocurrency market in Russia, where the legality of digital assets remains in limbo.

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A Russian court has asked the country’s largest bank to unblock a user’s account after it was frozen for transactions related to crypto trading.

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A Russian court has ordered the country’s largest bank to unblock the accounts of crypto traders, potentially signaling a change in its regulatory stance. The Sverdlovsk regional court, a court in Russia’s fourth-largest city, Yekaterinburg, commanded Sberbank to return normal services to clients it had blocked for trading bitcoin.

A Russian citizen by the name of Pavel R. had his accounts blocked after the bank suspected money laundering. After Pavel R. provided the necessary documents to prove that was not the case and that he had only been trading bitcoin, the bank froze his accounts. He subsequently filed a lawsuit, which resulted in services being restored.

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Sberbank itself announced its intentions to work with cryptocurrency-related technology. In December 2020, the CEO of the state-owned bank revealed plans for a stablecoin called Sber.

This is a small but important victory for the cryptocurrency market in Russia, where the legality of digital assets remains in limbo. Russian authorities have been making some moves that are promising for crypto, including Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin saying that he would ensure legal protection of crypto assets.

However, more recent developments have seen the government clamp down on the market to prevent illicit activity, directly or indirectly.

Russia examining potential crypto regulation

Russia is one of the many countries now working on a formal cryptocurrency regulatory framework. Developments that have been both good and bad for the market have transpired over the past few years. But it’s unclear which way the government will go with broad and thorough legislation.

A month ago, officials introduced rules that would allow for easier confiscation of crypto, with the stated goal being bribe prevention. The Bank of Russia also advised stock exchanges not to list investment products related to crypto.

The government of Russia is reportedly working on a CBDC, a digital ruble, which would put it alongside the many other nations that are now hurriedly working on a digital currency. Russia’s central bank governor went so far as to say that CBDCs are the future of the country’s financial system. The first digital ruble trial is set to launch in 2022.

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Rahul's cryptocurrency journey first began in 2014. With a postgraduate degree in finance, he was among the few that first recognized the sheer untapped potential of decentralized technologies. Since then, he has guided a number of startups to navigate the complex digital marketing and media outreach landscapes. His work has even influenced distinguished cryptocurrency exchanges and DeFi platforms worth millions of dollars.

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