Using Crypto is Not a Good way for Russia to evade Western sanctions, according to FBI Director

Russia has overestimated crypto ability

Christopher Wray, the director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), believes that fiat is a more realistic path for Russia to go in order to escape Western sanctions because of the U.S.’s capacity to block crypto efforts.

On Thursday, New Mexico Senator Martin Heinrich questioned FBI Director Christopher Wray if Russia may react to the economic impact of the US banning imports of its oil and gas by utilizing gold reserves, Chinese currency, or cryptocurrencies. Director Wray said that the FBI and its allies had “developed significant expertise” in digital assets, noting the department’s recent work in seizing large amounts of tokens as proof that crypto could be used to evade sanctions.

“The Russians’ ability to circumvent the sanctions with cryptocurrency is probably highly overestimated on the part of maybe them and others,” said Wray. “We are, as a community and with our partners overseas, far more effective on that than I think that sometimes they appreciate and there’s a lot of expertise in terms of tools and strategies to help block that kind of effort. Ultimately, what they really need to do is get access to some form of fiat currency, which becomes more challenging.”

Avril Haines, the Director of National Intelligence, underlined that Russian President Vladimir Putin had most certainly expected sanctions as a result of his actions against Ukraine and had set reserve funds to reduce the economic damage. However, she said that sanctions imposed by the US Treasury Department and other countries on Russia had made it impossible to access the funds.

In addition, on Wednesday, US President Joe Biden issued an executive order aimed at establishing a regulatory framework for cryptocurrency, which included a warning about the risks of evading sanctions.

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