Binance Renames Russian Bank Cards Amid US Sanctions Probe, Report

Crypto exchange Binance has replaced the names of cards issued by Russian banks with colors, Russian media revealed amid reports of a U.S. investigation into potential sanctions violations. The changes concern the ruble exchange feature on Binance’s peer-to-peer platform.

Russian Traders on Binance Offered ‘Green’ and ‘Yellow’ Cards as Payment Options

Binance, the world’s largest digital asset exchange by trading volume, has changed the names of the cards of two Russian banks, Sberbank and Tinkoff, on its platform, Russian crypto news outlets and RBC Crypto reported.

The change has been made on Binance’s peer-to-peer (P2P) platform where Russian users can now choose between a “green local card,” (for Sberbank, according to the websites) and a “yellow local card” (for Tinkoff) in the payment options menu.

The renaming follows the publishing of a report by the Wall Street Journal (WSJ) on Tuesday, quoting sources, according to which Binance is under investigation by the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) in connection with possible violations of U.S. sanctions against Russia.

The United States and its Western allies imposed unprecedented sanctions on the Russian Federation over its military invasion of Ukraine, including severe financial restrictions like cutting off Russian banks from the global interbank messaging system SWIFT.

Both the majority-state owned Sberbank, Russia’s largest bank, and the neobank Tinkoff, which is one of the leading providers of credit cards in Russia, are on a U.S. sanctions list, along with 29 other Russian banking institutions.

The two bank cards are available as payment methods for customers using Russian rubles. In accordance with the 10th package of EU sanctions against Russia, Binance restricted access to P2P transactions in U.S. dollars and euros for Russians, but the measure did not affect ruble transactions.

Binance has said that it follows global sanctions rules and has no banking relationships anywhere for its P2P service, according to the WSJ article. A key reason for the DOJ probe, first reported by Bloomberg in May, is the suspicion that Binance allows Russian clients to make transactions involving at least five sanctioned Russian banks, thus helping Russians to transfer funds abroad.

The Wall Street Journal also wrote that the investigation could potentially add to Binance’s legal troubles in the United States, where the global leader among cryptocurrency exchanges faces lawsuits filed by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) for allegedly breaking U.S. laws.

In April, the Russian news outlet Kod Durova informed readers that had lifted previously introduced restrictions, allowing holders of Russian Mir cards as well as Visa and Mastercard cards issued by Russian banks to deposit to the platform. According to published screenshots, accounts could be loaded through the Russian payment service Qiwi by selecting the ‘bank card’ option.

What are your thoughts on the reported accusations that Binance is violating U.S. sanctions against Russia? Tell us in the comments section below.

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