Russia Plans New Law Allowing Bitcoin Confiscation

Russia’s Ministry of Internal Affairs is reportedly working toward implementing a new law that would allow law enforcement to seize Bitcoin and other digital assets, beginning in 2021, according to Russian news outlet RBC.

Specifically, the new law would allow police to seize computers, hard drives or mobile devices containing cryptocurrency wallet addresses from individuals suspected of a crime. From there, authorities could then search through the contents of the devices and see about accessing the wallets and the cryptocurrencies they might contain.

The push does not single out Bitcoin, but instead refers to “digital assets” as a general phenomenon, chief among which are cryptocurrencies, RBC writes.

“The constant growth trend in crimes using virtual assets, and the lack of consumer protection in the face of this kind of criminal onslaught, naturally dictate the need to develop mechanisms for legal regulation and control of virtual asset exchange,” the publication quoted Nikita Kulikov, head of a dedicated committee at the Russian parliament, as saying.

Among the options under consideration is the creation of a government cryptocurrency wallet for transferring funds.

Russia has yet to implement its long-awaited package of laws regarding cryptocurrency, which has seen multiple delays.

According to various parties speaking to RBC, crypto would need legal recognition before the government could justify legal grounds to confiscate it as part of judicial proceedings.

As with other countries’ attempts, however, the way authorities would take control of investors’ holdings remains unclear.