Coinbase Global (COIN -2.6%) is blocking ~25K addresses related to Russian individuals or entities the company believes to be engaging in illicit activities, Coinbase Chief Legal Officer Paul Grewal said in a blog post on Sunday.
"Sanctions play a vital role in promoting national security and deterring unlawful aggression, and Coinbase (NASDAQ:COIN) fully supports these efforts by government authorities," Grewal said. "Sanctions are serious interventions, and governments are best placed to decide when, where, and how to apply them."
The cryptocurrency exchange blocks sanctioned actors as part of the onboarding process and also screens existing Coinbase (COIN) accounts when sanction lists are updated. The company also maintains a blockchain analytic program to identify high-risk behavior, study emerging threats, and develop new migrations, Grewal added. "For example, we have methods for identifying accounts held by sanctioned individuals outside of Coinbase (COIN), even if we don’t have direct access to their personal information," he said.
In one instance, the U.S. sanctioned a Russian national in 2020 and specifically listed three associated blockchain addresses. Through blockchain analysis, Coinbase (COIN) identified more than 1,200 additional addresses potentially associated with the sanctioned individual, which was added to the company's internal blocklist.
He also pointed out that digital asset transactions are traceable, permanent, and public, which can actually aid in the company's ability to detect and deter evasion. By contrast, "ordinary fiat currency laundered through traditional financial institutions remains one of the most common mechanisms for sanctions evasion and money laundering," Grewal said.
See also: Could Russia use cryptocurrencies to circumvent sanctions?