While the Ukraine-Russia ties continue to remain tense, Ukraine has allegedly busted a bunch of crypto traders, accusing them of funnelling Russian funds as virtual digital assets. The Ukrainian authorities claim to have seized $3.3 million (roughly Rs. 26 crore) worth of property that were lined-up to be laundered as cryptocurrencies. Outlining other findings around this case, the Ukrainian authorities have published an official blog post, that also show pictures of the items confiscated in raids.
As per Ukraine’s Prosecutor General’s office, crypto traders were converting cash and non-cash assets for Russian citizens into cryptocurrencies. These traders now face criminal proceedings in Ukraine.
About UAH 50 million (roughly Rs. 13 crore) in various currencies, 830 kg of silver, six land plots, and three apartments have been taken from these crypto traders by Ukrainian officials.
“The District Prosecutor’s Office conducts procedural management in criminal proceedings based on the fact of illegal use by a group of individuals of resources for the exchange of electronic funds, which allow users from the Russian Federation to convert cash and non-cash funds into cryptocurrency, without paying taxes and with further legalisation,” the blog post, translated from Ukrainian to English, read.
For the pre-trail investigation, the charges levied on these crypto traders include tax evasion, laundering of property obtained by crime, as well as engaging in fraudulent activities.
The pre-trial probe will be carried out by the Darnytsia police department of the State Police in Ukraine’s capital, Kyiv.
Russia waged a war on Ukraine nearly six months ago on February 24, causing major damage to life in Ukraine.
In retaliation to Russia’s aggression, many nations including the US imposed sanctions against Russians, barring them from accessing money from abroad.
In need for extra emergency funding, the Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy in March, signed a virtual assets bill into law to legalise cryptocurrencies in the country.
The rule requires crypto exchanges and companies dealing in digital assets to register with the government to operate legally in Ukraine.
Meanwhile, Russia is still pushing forward having captured the city of Lysychansk over the past weekend. Russia now controls the whole Luhansk region.
President Volodymyr Zelensky has reportedly pledged that Ukrainian forces will return to retake Lysychansk “thanks to the increase in the supply of modern weapons”.
Back in March, Alex Bornyakov, Ukraine’s deputy minister of defence had revealed that their military was buying equipment like bullet-proof vests and night vision goggles for the Ukrainian armed forces using crypto assets.
Russian officials have meanwhile stated that their forces are fighting for the “complete liberation” of the Donbas. This broadly refers to Ukraine’s eastern regions of Donetsk and Luhansk, where Russian-backed separatists held significant territory before the invasion.