Belarus, well-known for its past progressive crypto-related laws, is mulling over a shift in its approach towards the growing cryptocurrency market. Rather than embracing the potential of the digital frontier, the country is turning a critical eye towards peer-to-peer (P2P) crypto services that, they believe, have become a hub for illicit activities.
Authorities have come to associate P2P crypto services with a playground for fraudsters, who have found crafty ways to launder their ill-gotten wealth. The country's Ministry of Internal Affairs stated this Sunday that it is dealing with a substantial surge of fraudulent activities involving cryptocurrencies.
In their fight against cybercrime, they have brought down 27 rogue citizens involved in illegal crypto exchange activities since the start of the year, with their collective illicit earnings reaching $8.7 million. The ministry is moving swiftly to roll out laws to put the brakes on individual cryptocurrency exchanges, thus forcing all crypto trades through registered exchanges only.
This move intends to choke the flow of unlawfully procured funds, as the regulated exchange environment makes it nearly impossible to launder dirty money. P2P services, which allow parties to interact without third-party involvement, have enabled these rogue activities.
Belarus is not entirely anti-crypto, though. The country has a rich history of supporting the crypto market since it legalized digital asset transactions in 2017. It also established itself as a haven for crypto enthusiasts when it offered tax exemptions to individuals and businesses involved in crypto transactions. This was part of a grand strategy to foster a vibrant digital economy and tech industry.
However, recent developments suggest a notable shift in this approach. The year 2020 saw the state-owned Belarusbank launching its crypto exchange service, a move that allowed Belarusians and Russians to purchase Bitcoin via Visa payment cards. With the growing concerns over illicit activities, the upcoming review of the tax exemption law could further reshape the nation's stance on cryptocurrency.