by Lubomir Tassev
Authorities in Belarus have mastered the seizure of cryptocurrencies, the head of the country’s Investigative Committee revealed in a recent interview. The high-ranking law enforcement official claims the state has already confiscated crypto assets worth millions of dollars.
Belarus had to deal with the challenge of how to seize cryptocurrencies when they were first used in drug trade and later economic crimes, Dmitry Gora, who heads the nation’s Investigative Committee, told the state-run ONT channel. He added that law enforcement agencies had to find a way to confiscate such digital assets and have already seized crypto worth hundreds of millions of Belarusian rubles (millions of U.S. dollars).
The former Soviet republic, a close ally of Russia, legalized various crypto activities with a presidential decree which went into force in May 2018. The document introduced tax breaks and other incentives for crypto businesses operating as residents of the Hi-Tech Park (HTP) in Minsk within efforts to develop the country’s digital economy.
In March 2021, President Alexander Lukashenko hinted at a possible tightening of the country’s crypto regulations, referring to China’s example. However, HTP officials later insisted Belarusian authorities had no intention to adopt stricter rules for the industry. What’s more, the finance ministry proposed amendments to allow investment funds to acquire digital assets.
In April of this year, the Ministry of Justice adopted a legal procedure allowing the seizure of crypto funds as part of enforcement proceedings. It implements another decree by Lukashenko from February who ordered the establishment of a special register for crypto wallets used for illicit purposes.
Dmitry Gora went on to quote his “advanced subordinates,” saying that cryptocurrency was just “digital trash.” “Based on this, I set the task: our state needs money to compensate for the damage caused. Let’s think about how to make money out of trash. I will not go into details, but we have learned how to do it… There are mechanisms that allow us to deal with these issues, and quite successfully,” he elaborated.
The law enforcement executive pointed out that both government agencies and commercial organizations are involved in the process. As a result, “the amounts that are already in the form of good, normal money are on the accounts of the Investigative Committee,” Gora stated.
Do you expect Belarus to change its policies regarding cryptocurrencies? Let us know in the comments section below.
Lubomir Tassev is a journalist from tech-savvy Eastern Europe who likes Hitchens’s quote: “Being a writer is what I am, rather than what I do.” Besides crypto, blockchain and fintech, international politics and economics are two other sources of inspiration.
Image Credits: Shutterstock, Pixabay, Wiki Commons
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by Lubomir Tassev