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Hillary Clinton Slams Crypto Exchanges That Haven’t Banned Russian Users

Former presidential candidate Hillary Clinton said she is "disappointed" in some crypto exchanges’ response to Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

3 min read
Hillary Clinton ran for president in the United States in 2016. Image: Shutterstock.

Former presidential candidate Hillary Clinton has said she is “disappointed” in some crypto exchanges that have not banned Russian users from their platforms. 

“I was disappointed to see that some of the so-called crypto exchanges, not all of them, but some of them, are refusing to end transactions with Russia,” Clinton said during a recent interview on The Rachel Maddow Show on MSNBC

She added that “everybody should do as much as possible to isolate Russian economic activity right now.” 

Crypto exchanges, sanctions, and Russia

Several crypto exchanges, including Coinbase, Binance, and Kraken, have declined the option to ban all Russian users, stating there are no legal grounds to do so. 

Most, however, have made it clear they will comply with sanctions if they were expanded to individual citizens. 

In contrast, Whitebit—one of the crypto exchanges Ukraine has asked to restrict Russian users—said the exchange had introduced procedures for checking sanctions lists. 

“Procedures for checking for sanctions lists have been introduced, trading activities with RUB [Russian ruble] have been closed, and registration for users from the countries of the Russian Federation and the Republic of Belarus has been suspended,” Whitebit said via email to Decrypt

“I think there is a reputation issue here. Do you want now or after the fact to be known as the exchange that facilitated sanctions evasion, even if it were not technically illegal?” Tom Keatinge, founding Director of the Centre for Financial Crime and Security Studies and the Royal United Services Institute, recently told Decrypt

“I wonder if the exchanges will follow the same path as Eurovision or FIFA. I guess they can make their choice, but when they lose Western banking access for having facilitated sanctions evasion, they might regret it,” Keatinge added. 

Clinton’s calls to crack down on crypto

During her interview, Clinton also took the opportunity to call for Western actors to do more to crack down on how Russia may use crypto to evade sanctions. 

“I do think that the Treasury Department [and] the Europeans, should look hard at how they can prevent the crypto markets from giving an escape hatch to Russia, both governmental and private transactions in and out of Russia,” she said. 

This is not the first time Clinton has raised a red flag concerning the broader crypto industry. 

Last November, Clinton said cryptocurrencies have the potential to undermine the U.S. dollar

“What looks like a very interesting and exotic effort…has the potential for undermining currencies, for undermining the role of the dollars as reserve currencies, for destabilizing nations,” she said. 

That same month, Clinton called on the Biden administration to regulate cryptocurrencies in the face of states and non-states manipulating the technology. 

“We’re looking at not only states such as China or Russia manipulating technology of all kinds to their advantage. We’re looking at non-state actors, either in concert with states or on their own, destabilizing countries, destabilizing the dollar as the reserve currency,” she added.

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