The Russian Ministry of Finance is preparing to add an amendment to the Criminal Code which will
dish out severe punishment for those using bitcoin, according to an unknown source within the government communicating with Interfax.
This version of the amendment is much harsher compared to the older version which sentenced the everyday bitcoin user to a year of “corrective labor” and two for the “organized groups”.
These punishments have been ramped up to four years of imprisonment for the everyday bitcoin user or a fine of 500,000 rubles (7,200 USD). If the fine can’t be paid, their salary or other income for the next three years will do.
Organized groups will be imprisoned for six years or fined 1,000,000 rubles (14,300 USD). If the the fine can’t be paid, their salary or other income for the next two to four years will do.
The top managers of banks and financial services companies will be punished the harshest. They face up to seven years of imprisonment with the inability to occupy certain positions and engage in certain activities for up to three years, or fined 1,000,000 to 2,500,000 rubles (35,750 USD). If the fine can’t be paid, their salary or other income for the next two to four years will do.
Movement to add this amendment was sparked by the Ministry’s belief that bitcoin is only used for illegal activities such as money laundering. Russian authorities reportedly have said that because of the decentralization and anonymity that comes with bitcoin, it is very appealing to commit crimes with it.
The head of the Central Bank of Russia, Elvira Nabiullina has said many times that they will look into bitcoin but they only view it as a way to execute “suspicious” transactions. On the other hand, the head of Sberbank of Russia, Herman Gref has said that the cryptocurrency shouldn’t be banned; saying that it seems to professionals like himself that it isn’t what you should be banning.