Russia reduces bitcoin penalties

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Russia’s Ministry of Finance has reduced potential fines facing both individual and institutional bitcoin users who create, issue or promote digital currencies.

An updated draft bill, which still seeks to outlaw the use of what it dubs “money surrogates” like bitcoin, decreases penalties for individuals to 50,000 rubles (aroud $1,050) from 60,000 ($1,314), CoinDesk reports.

Under the new terms, individuals who disseminate money substitutes directly could be fined 20,000–40,000 rubles (about $420–$840), down from 30,000–50,000 rubles ($750–$1,250) in the original proposal. Those who merely disseminate information about money substitutes face fines of 5,000–30,000 rubles ($100–$630), reduced from 5,000–50,000 rubles ($125–$1,250).

Fines for officials involved in the dissemination of information related to monetary surrogates have been dropped from 100,000 rubles to 50,000 rubles ($2,191 to $1,097), while those for legal entities have decreased from 1m rubles ($21,946) to 300,000 rubles ($6,576).

Officials who disseminate digital currencies will now face a maximum fine of 80,000 rubles ($1,753), down from 100,000 rubles ($2,500). Legal entities now face a maximum fine of 500,000 rubles ($12,500) for this action, down from 1m rubles ($25,000).

Speaking to CoinDesk, Artem Tolkachev, managing partner at the law firm Tolkachev & Partners, suggested that he believes this could be an early signal that the proposed law will not be as strict as some had feared, but that optimism must be tempered as “the conceptual framework of the bill has remained the same”.

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