U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen says the Treasury Department is monitoring Russian efforts to evade sanctions using cryptocurrency. Four U.S. senators have written to Yellen raising concerns about Russia using cryptocurrency as a channel to circumvent sanctions.

Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen on Monitoring Russian Efforts to Use Cryptocurrency to Evade Sanctions

U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen talked about the Treasury Department monitoring Russian efforts to evade sanctions using crypto at an event hosted by the University of Illinois Wednesday, the Wall Street Journal reported. Yellen said:

We will continue to look at how the sanctions work and evaluate whether or not there are leakages, and we have the possibility to address them.

On Wednesday, four U.S. senators, including Sen. Elizabeth Warren, also wrote a letter to Yellen inquiring about the “Treasury Department’s progress in monitoring and enforcing sanctions compliance by the cryptocurrency industry.”

The senators expressed their “concern that criminals, rogue states, and other actors may use digital assets and alternative payment platforms as a new means to hide cross-border transactions for nefarious purposes.”

Commenting on the potential use of cryptocurrency as a way to evade sanctions, Yellen said:

I often hear cryptocurrency mentioned and that is a channel to be watched.

Nonetheless, the treasury secretary added that many participants in the cryptocurrency space are subject to anti-money laundering and sanction rules.

Several major cryptocurrency trading platforms have already said that they are working with the government to comply with sanctions requirements, including Coinbase, Binance, and Kraken.

These cryptocurrency exchanges, however, have rejected the request by the vice prime minister of Ukraine to block all Russian users.

Their refusals prompted former first lady and secretary of state, Hillary Clinton, to feel “disappointed.” She subsequently urged the Biden administration to pressure crypto exchanges to block Russian users.

Regarding the crypto sector, Treasury Secretary Yellen clarified:

It’s not that that sector is completely one where things can be evaded.

In October last year, the Treasury Department published its sanctions review, stating: “We are mindful of the risk that, if left unchecked, these digital assets and payments systems could harm the efficacy of our sanctions.”

However, a spokesperson for blockchain analytics platform Chainalysis said Wednesday that the company has not detected evidence of major sanctions evasion by Russians in cryptocurrency markets.

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