Kraken in hot water for alleged sanctions violation

Crypto exchange Kraken could face a steep fine for breaching sanctions that prohibit trading in Iran, New York Times reports.

The Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control is investigating Kraken, the fourth top crypto exchange according to the CoinMarketCap rating, for alleged violation of sanctions imposed on Iran, according to New York Times.

According to the Times’ sources, a fine could be imminent, even as a Treasury spokeswoman declined to comment on the matter. Two weeks ago, Reuters reported that Binance also allowed Iranian users to trade on its platform despite the imposed sanctions. "There were some alternatives, but none of them were as good as Binance," an Iranian customer was reported to say.

The news reignited the conversation around sanctions compliance in crypto exchanges months after the outbreak of the war in Ukraine prompted top trading platforms to respond to Ukrainian officials’ calls to block all Russian customers. At the time, most exchanges refused to impose a blanket ban, but vowed to comply with sanctions against specific individuals.

Separately, some crypto exchanges initiated aid programs for Ukraine, with Kraken allocating the trading fees earned from Russian customers to Ukrainian users.

“We will not voluntarily deplatform controversial but law-abiding individuals or businesses. Of course, if the laws change, we will follow them,” Kraken said in a corporate culture memo released in June.