Payeer fined €9.3m for sanctions evasion

Lithuania has imposed a €9.3 million ($10.07 million) fine against local cryptocurrency firm Payeer over sanctions violations, Reuters reported on Wednesday.

Specifically, Lithuania’s financial crimes watchdog, the Financial Crimes Investigation Service (FNTT), penalized the regulated crypto company for facilitating the transfer of funds to and from Russian banks.

The €9.3 million fine includes €8.2 million for sanctions violations and €1.1 million for AML breaches.

Payeer had 213,000 clients, most of them Russian

Authorities say the company had evaded sanctions against Russia with the activities. Payeer also breached money laundering rules.

FNTT stated that most of Payeer’s 213,000 clients, based in Russia, were able to transfer funds into and out of the country for over a year. The company concealed these clients’ identities, allowing them to bypass AML checks as they moved Russian rubles, the report added.

Russia-based individuals and legal entities also received account management services, crypto wallet use and custody from Payeer.

Payeer, which launched its operations in January 2023, also reportedly accrued revenues of over 164 million euros ($177.4 million), the financial crimes unit added in the statement.

In May, FNTT released a report indicating that the country witnessed more than 98,000 incidences of suspicious money transactions in 2023. AML fines reached 900,000 euros that year.

Estonia revoked company’s license

Payeer’s launch in Lithuania followed the revocation of a license issued in Estonia to another company that operated under the same name.

In March this year, the US Department of the Treasury, through its Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC), blacklisted several entities for aiding sanctions evasion in Russia.

These included multiple blockchain-based services and crypto exchange platforms, among them Estonia-based Bitfingroup OÜ and peer-to-peer (P2P) platform Bitpapa.

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