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US, Russia step up crypto war; Facebook sued: Crypto Moves


US Democrats introduced a bill aiming to curb Russian crypto use and Russia’s central bank gave Sberbank a license to issue and exchange digital assets as the two nations continued to try and outmaneuver each other over the war in Ukraine.

US senators put forward a plan that would enable the president to penalize foreign cryptocurrency firms doing business with sanctioned Russian entities, stopping them from carrying out transactions with US customers.

The Digital Asset Sanctions Compliance Act is led by Senator Elizabeth Warren and co-sponsored by 10 other Democrats, including Senators Mark Warner and Jon Tester.

The move increases pressure on cryptocurrency exchanges that may be used by sanctioned Russians to move money. Exchanges, including Binance and Coinbase, have said they have robust systems in place to ensure they comply with US sanctions.

Russian President Vladimir Putin “and his cronies can move, store and hide their wealth using cryptocurrencies, potentially allowing them to evade the historic economic sanctions the US and its partners across the world have levied in response to Russia’s war against Ukraine,” Warren said in a statement.

Biden administration officials have said they do not believe Russia could use cryptocurrencies to completely evade sanctions, citing the lack of liquidity in crypto markets to facilitate high-volume transactions.

Russia’s central bank on Thursday said it had given Sberbank, the country’s biggest lender, a license to issue and exchange digital financial assets, a move that may open new opportunities for the bank as it seeks to blunt the effect of Western sanctions.

The move represents a major turnaround for the Russian central bank, which has previously advocated a complete ban on trading and mining. It has clashed with the finance ministry, which would rather regulate crypto assets in Russia.

Sberbank, which has said it is working on launching its own cryptocurrency, was listed on the central bank’s register, along with financial ecosystem Lighthouse, giving the two companies the ability to issue digital assets and exchange them on their platforms.

Sberbank said it would use blockchain technology that guarantees the safety of digital transactions and would allow companies to issue their own digital assets, purchase those issued within Sberbank’s system and make other transactions.

Sberbank CEO German Gref in late 2020 said the bank was working with JPMorgan to launch its own cryptocurrency, called Sbercoin, but it has yet to launch.

Australia v Meta

Elsewhere, the Australian competition watchdog is taking action against Meta Platforms Inc’s Facebook, alleging it knowingly hosted misleading cryptocurrency investment ads.

Facebook did not take action swiftly enough after becoming aware that the ads featuring prominent Australian public figures were scams, said the Australian Competition & Consumer Commission, which is seeking declarations, injunctions, penalties, costs and other orders.

“We allege that the technology of Meta enabled these ads to be targeted to users most likely to engage with the ads,” ACCC Chair Rod Sims said. “Meta assured its users it would detect and prevent spam and promote safety on Facebook, but it failed to prevent the publication of other similar celebrity endorsement cryptocurrency scam ads.”

Crypto Trading

Bitcoin declined on Friday, falling 1.5 percent to $40,376 as of 12:33 in London, according to CoinDesk prices. Ethereum rose 0.2 percent to $2,803.

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