Russia May Use Ransomware Payouts to Avoid Sanctions

FinCEN warns financial institutions to beware of unusual cryptocurrency payments or illegal transactions Russia may use to evade restrictions imposed due to its invasion of Ukraine.

Russia may ramp up ransomware attacks against the United States as a way to avoid sanctions levied against the nation and Vladimir Putin’s government for its invasion of Ukraine, U.S. federal authorities are warning.

The Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) issued a FinCEN Alert (PDF) on Wednesday advising all financial institutions to remain vigilant against potential efforts to evade the expansive sanctions and other U.S.-imposed restrictions related to the current conflict. One way this may be done is to move cryptocurrency funds through ransomware payments collected after Russian state-sponsored actors carry out cyberattacks.

“In the face of mounting economic pressure on Russia, it is vitally important for U.S. financial institutions to be vigilant about potential Russian sanctions evasion, including by both state actors and oligarchs,” said FinCEN Acting Director Him Das in a press statement.

Financial actions taken against Russia by the U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) since the nation’s invasion of Ukraine last month are numerous. They include:

Sanctions against

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