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Belarus to let law enforcement inspect a register of crypto wallets linked to criminal activity, under the president’s new decree

Belarus’ President Alexander Lukashenko.

Valery Sharifulin / Contributor / Getty Images

  • Belarus is set to bring in rules enabling its authorities to track crypto wallets linked to illicit activity.
  • President Lukashenko signed a decree Monday that also allows the free circulation of cryptocurrencies.
  • Belarus has signaled it’s a crypto-friendly country, changing investment rules and urging citizens to mine crypto.

Belarus has moved to cement its reputation as a crypto-friendly country with a decree to allow free circulation of digital currencies and to bring in rules to clamp down on criminal wallets.

The country’s president, Alexander Lukashenko, signed the decree Monday. It lays the ground for the Hi-Tech Park — the Belarus crypto watchdog — to create a register of crypto wallet addresses suspected of being used for illegal purposes.

“Belarus is consistently developing the legal field for regulating activities related to digital assets, and, unlike many other states, allows free circulation of digital currencies,” the president’s office said in a Monday statement translated by Insider.

“At the same time, this requires constant monitoring of the situation and, if necessary, supplementing and clarifying regulatory norms,” it added.

Belarus, ranked third in Eastern Europe in Chainalysis’s Crypto Adoption Index, is bidding to present itself as a crypto-friendly regime. Earlier in February, its ministry of finance put forward rule changes to make it easier for funds to invest in digital assets.

The register of virtual wallets will be used by law enforcement agencies in their investigations in areas such as funding for terrorism and extremism, as well as illicit activities, according to the decree.

“This rule is designed to protect participants in the digital asset market from the loss of property and prevent unintentional involvement in activities prohibited by law,” the president’s office said.

At the same time, President Lukashenko has been a prominent backer since cryptocurrencies were legalized in Belarus in 2017. In August, he pointed out existing locations where Belarusians could mine digital assets, as he opened the Petrikovsky mining and processing plant.

This prompt to citizens came at a time when cryptocurrency mining had drawn global criticism for its negative environmental impact, with proponents like Elon Musk speaking out against bitcoin’s negative environmental impact.

Read more: A Morningstar investing chief says US stocks need to fall by at least 20% before they start looking attractive and lays out the triggers for a full market crash — as well as 3 sectors that still offer good value

This story has been updated to clarify that Belarus law enforcement will be able to inspect the register of crypto wallets.

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