Russians are flooding UAE crypto firms to liquidate virtual currencies as they seek safe havens


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Dubai – United Arab Emirates, first published on March 12, 2022, 14:35 IST

Crypto firms in the United Arab Emirates are inundated with requests to liquidate billions of dollars in virtual currencies as Russians seek a safe haven for their fortunes, business leaders and financial sources were quoted as saying in the exclusive Reuters report.

Some shoppers use cryptocurrency to put money into real estate in the UAE, while others have to use businesses there to display their digital cash in laborious forex and store it elsewhere, the sources said.

A crypto firm has received many inquiries in the past 10 days from Swiss brokers asking to liquidate billions of dollars in bitcoin because their customers fear that Switzerland will freeze their funds, an executive said, adding that none of the requests are for less than $2. billion.

“We’ve had about five or six of them in the last two weeks. None of them have come out yet — they fell over a bit at the last minute, which isn’t rare — but we’ve never had this much interest,” he said. the executive by Reuters, adding that his company normally applies for a large transaction once a month.

“We have one guy – I don’t know who he is, but he came through a broker – and they said, ‘we want to sell 125,000 bitcoin’. And I’m like, ‘what? That’s $6 billion guys’. And they said, ‘yes, we’re going to send it to a company in Australia,’ said the director.

The Swiss financial market regulator declined to comment on cryptocurrency transaction volumes, Reuters reported.

The country’s Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO) said in an emailed statement that crypto assets were subject to the same sanctions and measures that Switzerland has imposed on “normal” Russian assets and individuals, so if a person is sanctioned, their crypto assets must also be frozen in Switzerland.

Dubai, the financial and business center of the Gulf and a growing crypto hub, has long been a magnet for the world’s ultra-wealthy, and the UAE’s refusal to take sides between Western allies and Moscow has signaled to the Russians that their money is safe there.

A real estate broker, whose company partners with a cryptocurrency service to help people buy real estate, said: “We have seen many Russians and even Belarusians come to Dubai and take everything they can bring, even in crypto. .”

A financial source in the UAE confirmed that Russians were buying real estate in Dubai, using crypto to get their money from other jurisdictions and into the Gulf state.

Cryptocurrency exchanges have said, while providing little detail, that they are blocking the accounts of Russians sanctioned by the West over Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine, which Russia calls a “special operation.”

Last updated March 12, 2022, 14:35 IST

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