Before 2022, sanctions in crypto sounded somewhat extravagant. While governments around the world have been after this industry for quite a while, it still seemed that cryptocurrencies, by their initial promise of privacy, freedom and censorship resistance, wouldn’t become as politicized as the fiat system. Then 2022 showed how naive those expectations were. “It became very clear that crypto needs to pay attention to sanctions and the consequences of not doing it can be significant,” says Daniel Tannebaum, partner at the Oliver Wyman consulting firm. He believes we will see more enforcement actions related to sanctions, and the mainstream crypto industry will need to keep adjusting to that reality. Crypto felt its first chill of sanctions in 2021 when Virgil Griffith, an Ethereum developer, arrested earlier for speaking at a North Korean blockchain conference, pleaded guilty to helping the rogue regime evade sanctions. The same year, Ethereum projects’ incubator ConsenSys banned Iranian students from a blockchain coding course, and fundraising platform Gitcoin shut down a campaign aimed at Farsi-speaking Ethereum coders.
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