Belarus recently announced plans to outlaw peer-to-peer (P2P) cryptocurrency transactions. This runs somewhat contrary to the laws that were passed in 2022, when President Alexander Lukashenko officially endorsed the free circulation of cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) has cited Belarus’s high rate of cybercrime as the reason for the legislation. According to the MFA, 27 citizens have been stopped from offering “illegal crypto exchange services” since the year’s beginning, with total earnings from illicit activities amounting to 22 million Belarusian rubles ($8.7 million).
The new regulations would require individuals to exchange cryptocurrencies only through cryptocurrency exchanges registered with Belarus Hi-Tech Park (HTP). The MFA also plans to implement a practice that makes it impossible to withdraw money obtained from illegal activity, similar to the process for exchanging foreign currencies.
Overall, the new legislation seems to be an effort to stop criminal activities such as money laundering, while still allowing the free circulation of cryptocurrencies.