Binance, OKX and Bybit ban Russian banks, but users play tricks

abdelaziz Fathi

Following in the footsteps of Binance, two major cryptocurrency exchanges have also excluded Russian banks that are under international financial sanctions from their payment options. Tinkoff Bank and Sberbank can no longer be found on the list of peer-to-peer (P2P) transactions on platforms like Bybit and OKX.

While there have been no official announcements from the sanctioned lenders regarding this change, Russian users are now unable to receive fiat money for their cryptocurrencies through these banks on the P2P platforms of OKX and Bybit.

Interestingly, despite reports of their removal, some users on Binance’s P2P platform are still placing advertisements for sales using Sberbank as their preferred payment option. Similar instances are reportedly happening on OKX and Bybit, where merchants are privately offering exchange options via the sanctioned banks despite the restrictions.

The recent developments come after The Wall Street Journal reported that Binance initially listed Tinkoff Bank and Sberbank as transfer methods. “Binance Angels,” who are volunteers from Binance, informed users via Telegram that the exchange is not enforcing trading limits on its Russian clients, despite having previously announced such restrictions in April 2022 to comply with EU sanctions.

The report also indicates that Russians engaged in peer-to-peer transactions totaling around $428 million monthly from October to March, as reported by Russia’s central bank.

Although these banks were later removed from the list, users seem to be finding workarounds to continue using them for transactions.

The US Department of Justice’s national security division is already investigating whether Binance or its executives violated US sanctions related to Russia’s annexation of Crimea and interference in Ukraine. This probe is separate from an ongoing inquiry by the DOJ’s criminal division into Binance’s compliance with anti-money laundering and tax laws.

The move came shortly after Binance reportedly eased restrictions on Russian citizens and residents that it had imposed over a year ago, breaking ranks with mainstream finance and global regulators in a decision that weakens Western attempts to isolate Moscow.

Complying with the latest EU sanctions targeting Russia, Binance started to restrict or terminate services for Russian accounts back in Mach 2022. The move followed the adoption of new European penalties in response to Russia’s military escalation in Ukraine. However, the influential crypto ecosystem now accepts deposits in Russian rubles, euros, British pounds, and other currencies using bank cards issued in Russia.

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