Hello and welcome to the newest issue of Overbit Insights.

As more and more countries grapple with cryptocurrency in 2021, Russia seems to be the latest country to make a statement on technology.

According to reports from Bitcoin.com, The Russian Federation's regulator remains adamantly opposed to the legalisation of Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies as a form of payment.

Elvira Nabiullina, chair of the Central Bank of Russia (CBR), said that a "responsible state" should not encourage the spread of cryptocurrencies. The statement was delivered in the Russian parliament's lower chamber, the State Duma, by the head of the monetary authority.

"These cryptocurrencies are anonymous, no one is accountable for them, and, in our opinion, a responsible state should not stimulate their spread and squeeze them out of payments," Nabiullina's statement read further.

The CBR is not opposed to digital currencies in general, as long as they are not used for "Shadow operations," according to the head of Russia's monetary policy authority. The Bank of Russia, according to Nabiullina, continues to oppose the licensing of Bitcoin as a payment instrument in Russia.

Meanwhile, the CBR has increased its attempts to build a digital version of the national fiat, the ruble, in response to the rising popularity of cryptocurrencies and the considerable increase in electronic payments. A digital ruble is what Russians need, according to Nabiullina, because it would enable cheap and reliable non-cash payments.

All in all, it seems the Russian government is taking cryptocurrency technology very seriously and is erring much more on the side of caution with regards to it.

According to our next story of the week, the IRS confiscated $3.5 billion in cryptocurrencies this year. Seizures represented 93 per cent of the Criminal Investigation unit, revealing how criminals have embraced digital money — prompting law enforcement to respond.

The Internal Revenue Service's Criminal Investigation division recovered nearly all of the money collected during the previous fiscal year in Bitcoin, the agency revealed Thursday, indicating how prevalent it has become in the criminal world.

The research marks a significant change for the IRS toward Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies, as digital money has quickly become the main form of payment in criminal cases when the agency seizes funds. According to Jarod Koopman, acting executive director of the IRS's Cyber and Forensic Services division, large cryptocurrency seizures have become the new standard for IRS criminal investigations.

"It is a massive, massive number," he commented. "We are seeing a shift in our investigative work." While Bitcoin was initially the preferred currency for online purchases of illicit market goods over a decade ago, it has since transformed into a significant investment vehicle for some of the world's most powerful financial institutions.

The $3.5 billion figure is primarily attributable to a few high-profile incidents and the fact that the value of Bitcoin has climbed in recent years. More than $1 billion of such money was accounted for by over 69,000 Bitcoins left over from the Silk Road investigation, the first significant law enforcement operation on a darknet illegal market. The IRS used the cryptocurrency monitoring tool Chainalysis to track down and recover Bitcoin stolen from that site by an unknown user. The agency seized them in November and is presently keeping access to them down until they can be auctioned off to the public.

When Silk Road founder Ross Ulbricht was arrested in 2015, the Bitcoins were worth around $237 each, for a total of almost $16 million. Another $10 million was seized from Volodymyr Kvashuk, a former Microsoft employee who was sentenced to nine years in prison last year for stealing virtual gift cards and selling them for Bitcoin, which he then attempted to launder.

The IRS Criminal Investigation, according to Koopman, may take even more cryptocurrencies in the next year. "Based on some investigations we are currently working on that are pretty large in size and scope," he continued, "we do expect that to stay somewhat in that range." "We could surpass that figure next year."

As the cryptocurrency space evolves, thank you for reading Overbit Insights, as always! Until next time, take care.

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