29th January 2023

The State Duma of the Russian Federation adopted the law on the regulation of digital currency for two years, and finally adopted

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Natalia Solovieva

Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a law regulating any actions with cryptocurrency on the territory of Russia. It will be possible to conduct transactions with digital financial assets in our country, buy and sell cryptocurrencies, but they will not be used as a means of payment.

Draft Federal Law No. 259-FZ “On digital financial assets, digital currency and on amendments to certain legislative acts of the Russian Federation” was submitted to the State Duma of the Russian Federation for consideration by a group of deputies and members of the Federation Council, including Anatoly Aksakov and Igor Divinsky, back in March 2018. It was proposed to introduce a number of new concepts into the code of domestic legislation – “token”, “cryptocurrency”, “digital financial asset”. At the same time, it was proposed to endow cryptocurrencies and tokens with the status of property, thus excluding them from means of payment. Operations for the exchange of digital currencies for real money were supposed to be banned, their mining – to be limited by electricity consumption limits. But at the same time, the possibility of concluding smart contracts in electronic form (contracts, obligations under which must be fulfilled using digital financial technologies) was proposed to be enshrined in the set of domestic laws.

By the second reading in the State Duma of the Russian Federation, the text of the draft was significantly revised, many concepts were excluded from it and new definitions appeared. But its final adoption, sources said, was delayed due to the requirements of the FATF (Financial Action Task Force on Money Laundering, Financial Action Task Force on Money Laundering).

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The final version of the law was adopted by the deputies of the upper house of parliament in the third reading on July 22, 2020, approved by the Federation Council on July 24, signed by the President of the Russian Federation on July 31 and posted on the Official Legal Information Portal.

From the beginning of 2021, as the text of the document says, in Russia it will be possible to conduct transactions with digital financial assets (DFA), or tokens. CFA are defined by the new law as digital rights, including monetary claims, the ability to exercise rights to equity securities, the right to participate in the capital of a non-public JSC, the right to demand the transfer of equity securities, which are enshrined in the decision on the issue of CFA. But CFA is not recognized as a means of payment.

DFAs can be purchased or exchanged in domestic financial institutions (banks) and on exchanges, which will receive the status of digital financial asset exchange operators. At the same time, CFA should be issued exclusively within the framework of Russian legislation. Tokens issued outside Russian law can also be purchased, but only on foreign platforms.

The CFA can be issued on the basis of the release decision. Such a decision is drawn up in electronic form, it must contain a number of mandatory information, and the person issuing the CFA must certify it with a strengthened qualified electronic signature. Then this solution must be posted on the websites of the person issuing the digital asset and the operator of the special information system within which the digital asset is issued. The Bank of Russia will include such information systems, as well as operators of the exchange of CFA, in the relevant registers. The functions of the mega-regulator will also include the definition of which of the CFA will be available only to qualified investors, and which can be acquired by an unqualified investor, within the amount established by the Central Bank of the Russian Federation.

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Digital currency is defined by the new law as a set of electronic data (digital code or designation) contained in the information system, which can be accepted as a means of payment, but at the same time are not the monetary unit of Russia, any foreign state, as well as international monetary or unit of account. Digital currency in Russia is allowed to buy, issue, sell and make other transactions with it. But at the same time, Russian residents are prohibited from accepting cryptocurrencies to pay for any goods, works or services, as well as disseminating information about the possibility of paying with it. There is a certain contradiction in this rule, says Dmitry Kirillov, senior lawyer of tax practice at Bryan Cave Leighton Paiser (Russia) LLP, teacher at Moscow Digital School. As he commented in the media, the norms of criminal and administrative responsibility for violating articles of the new law will most likely be put into a separate bill. This, according to him, is “hinted” by the conclusion of the Legal Department of the State Duma.

Separate documents will regulate mining, organization of the issue and circulation of digital currency. It is possible, the lawyer believes, that these laws will contain other restrictions regarding these operations.

Anatoly Aksakov, head of the State Duma Committee on the financial market and one of the authors of the new law, explained that more detailed regulation of digital currencies will be spelled out in another legislative act, which, it is possible, will be adopted by the deputies of the State Duma of the Russian Federation this fall.

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Vicky O. Torres

My name is Vicky O. Torres. I am a psychologist by profession, and I love my work very much. And in general, I am an active seeker of truth, silence and beauty of the world.

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