Russia is the latest country to rule on the legality of cryptocurrencies after President Vladimir Putin declared them 'risky', and the country's central bank saying it would move to block websites that sell bitcoins and other popular virtual currencies.
During a conference in Moscow, Sergei Shvetsov, the First Deputy Governor of the central bank, told attendees that virtual currencies were “dubious” and that investors dealing with them needed to be protected, saying:
“We cannot stand apart. We cannot give direct and easy access to such dubious instruments for retail (investors).”
While speaking with reporters in the resort town of Sochi, Putin emphasised that cryptocurrencies could be used for nefarious purposes such as money laundering, tax evasion and even to finance terrorist groups.
Putin highlighted the risks virtual currencies pose, saying:
“The usage of crypto-currencies carries serious risks. I know the central bank's position on that. Crypto-currencies are issued by an unlimited number of anonymous bodies. Thus the buyers of crypto-currencies could be involved in unlawful activities.”
However, just last month Russia's Finance Minister Anton Siluanov stated that the authorities had to accept the fact that virtual currencies existed and that instead of banning them, they should work to regulate them.
Recently a number of countries, including China and South Korea, have decided to ban initial coin offerings (ICOs) because they are incredibly risky ventures that could be used for money laundering.
Cyrptocurrencies have spiked in popularity over the past few months and any effort to outright ban them will likely be unsuccessful.
Image Credit: Julia Tsokur / Shutterstock