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Crypto Bribery Cases on the Rise in Russia

Tim Alper
Last updated: | 2 min read
Crypto Bribery Cases on the Rise in Russia

Russia is seeing an increase in the number of crypto bribery cases where corrupt individuals receive payment in tokens such as Bitcoin (BTC), lawyers say.

In an interview with Svoy Kirovsky Portal, Marina Odintsova, the head of the Kirov branch of the Association of Lawyers of Russia, said there had been a rise in “non-cash” bribery in Russia in recent months.

Crypto Bribery: Russia Seeing an Increase in Cases

Odintsova was answering a question about the “most common methods of transferring bribes” in Russia.

The lawyer said that there were “three” common ways to give and receive bribes. She named crypto as the first. Odintsova said:

“We have recently seen cryptocurrency involved in bribery cases. Cryptocurrency is the sector that is the least controlled by the state. And it is extremely difficult to track transfers made [using crypto]. However, it is not impossible.”

She also made note of the fact that “currently in the Moscow Oblast,” courts are “looking into the case of the largest bribe in modern Russian history.” “This case is also connected with cryptocurrency,” Odintsova noted.

‘Bitcoin Bribery’ – A Landmark Case

Odintsova was referring to the case of two Russian army investigators. The investigators are believed to have demanded a group of hackers pay them thousands of Bitcoin to bury their investigation.

In June this year, a Moscow Oblast court announced that two Investigative Committee staffers are the “prime suspects” in a trial that is set to begin shortly.

Prosecutors say Russian law enforcement officials were investigating the domestic arm of “an international cybercrime syndicate” named Infraud Organization.

Court documents allege that army Major Marat Tambiev demanded that the hackers pay him BTC 2,718.

Prosecutors say that Tambiev and another suspect “promised not to confiscate” some $159.6 million worth of crypto if they paid the bribe.

The hackers reported the alleged bribe to the Federal Security Service. They were later found guilty of cybercrime offenses and handed jail sentences of between two and a half and three years.

Bribes Handed Out Via ‘Third Parties’

But Odintsova explained that crypto bribes are also on the rise in less high-profile cases. She said that “non-cash transfers” that use crypto are often sent “to bribe-takers’ wallets via a third party.”

Often, these third parties include “relatives, friends, and acquaintances,” the lawyer said. She also named cash bribes and “property” bribes as common ways to close corrupt deals.

The Russian Central Bank, meanwhile, is pushing ahead with its fast-tracked CBDC plans. The bank said it will launch the second phase of its digital ruble project in September.