In response to a Reuters investigation published on Friday, Binance, a major global cryptocurrency exchange, vehemently denied it had assisted Russian authorities in tracking down donations to the opposition.
According to Reuters, Gleb Kostarev, Binance’s head of Eastern Europe and Russia, met with Russia’s anti-money laundering agency, Rosfinmonitoring, in April of last year (Rosfin). According to Reuters’ review of Kostarev’s messages, he “consented to Rosfin’s request to agree to share client data,” telling a colleague he didn’t have “much of a choice.”
Reuters reported that around the same time, Rosfinmonitoring was looking for ways to track crypto donations to the organizations of Russia’s opposition leader Alexei Navalny. Navalny received millions of dollars in donations from supporters, including a surge of new funds following his assassination plot and afterwards arrest a year ago.
Binance later stated on its official blog that “suggestions that Binance shared any user data, including Alexei Navalny, with Russian FSB-controlled agencies and Russian regulators are categorically false,” adding that “Binance has not sought to actively assist the Russian state in its efforts to investigate Alexei Navalny.”
In response, Kostarev stated on his Facebook page that it was “an absolute lie” that he or Binance “leaked Navalny or users’ data to Rosfin or FSB.”
“Any government or law enforcement agency in the world can now request user data from Binance as long as it is accompanied by the appropriate legal authority. “Russia is no different,” Binance continued, adding that the cryptocurrency exchange “has not entered into any type of agreement with the Russian government that differs from any other jurisdiction – these obligations are ordinary, and any traditional bank, for example, would be subject to the same requirements.” “Binance will file a formal complaint with Reuters under their own editorial code,” the company said “According to the statement.
Binance also published emails received from Reuters as well as its responses to them. Binance Chief Communications Officer Patrick Hillmann, in particular, approached Reuters journalists about a “off-the-record conversation” and complained that the media company did not agree, “as there is quite an interesting story that should be told here, but we simply can’t share it without putting our people’s lives in danger,” Hillmann wrote. He did not elaborate on the nature of the danger.