Russia’s c-bank clears another hurdle to getting powers to block illegal foreign FX websites

Maria Nikolova

The Ministry of Economic Development has issued a positive assessment of the bill that allows the Central Bank of Russia to make decisions as to the blocking of websites of financial services companies, including FX brokers, that target Russian clients without having the necessary license to do so.

The Bank of Russia is getting nearer to obtaining powers to block access to websites of fraudulent financial companies, including non-licensed overseas FX entities, targeting Russian clients.

The Ministry of Economic Development has published a positive assessment of the bill drafted by the Ministry of Сommunications and Mass Media, which proposes amendments to the Law “On Information, Information Technologies and Information Protection”. The next step is a review of the document by the Russian government.

The bill aims to help the Russian authorities tackle financial fraud executed via the Internet. Quite often, Russian clients are targeted by foreign companies who offer their services through online platforms without having offices in Russia and without having the necessary Russian licenses.

In June this year, Artem Sychev, Deputy Head of the Central Directorate for Security and Information Protection at the Bank of Russia, explained that for the time being the Russian authorities have the right to block websites with .ru, .su and .рф domain names. The procedure, which does not require a court approval, is stipulated in the law “On Information, Information Technologies and Information Protection”. If a company targets Russian clients without having the permission to do so, its website address is entered into a special register operated by the Federal Service for Supervision in the Sphere of Telecom, Information Technologies and Mass Communications (Roskomnadzor) and is then blocked for containing information prohibited under Russian laws.

Mr Sychev noted back then that this procedure should be amended to cover websites with other domain names, apart from the above mentioned ones. This would enable protection of the rights of Forex broker clients, according to him.

Under the bill that has just won the approval of the Ministry of Economic Development, the Bank of Russia may decide whether to include a website in the registry, in case the regulator determines that the information provided from a given website is related to the provision of financial services in Russia by an entity that has no permission to do so.

The Russian Forex law allows only companies that have Forex dealer licenses issued by the Central Bank to offer OTC FX services to Russian clients. Thus far, only eight companies have obtained such licenses.

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