Russian news agency Interfax reports that Russia's Ministry of Finance has prepared an amendment to a law which could see issuers of surrogate currencies, such as Bitcoin, face up to four years in jail. Executives of banks and financial service companies would face harsher punishment, up to seven years in prison. Additionally, executives who would break this law would face restrictions on holding similar jobs in the future.
Previously, the bill was much softer on offenders, in which those releasing surrogate currencies would face one year of "corrective labour". Organised groups would face two years. Aside from the prison sentences, the new amendment also includes fines for those issuing a money surrogate: fines range from 500,000 rubles (£5,000) to 1,000,000 rubles (£10,000). Execs face fines of up to 2,500,000 rubles (£25,000).
Views on crypto-currencies in the transcontinental state vary. Russia's finance ministry believes that the use of money surrogates create prerequisites for citizens and legal entities to get involved in illegal activities including money laundering. On the other hand, the head of Sberbank believes surrogate currencies are not something that need to be banned.
In September, Russia's central bank set up a special working group to study blockchain technology to see what it could be used for in the country. Elvira Nabiullina head of the Central Bank of Russia said the institution is suspicious about cryptocurrencies but not about crypto-technology such as the blockchain.