With the G7 countries tightening the noose on Russia and its western-based oligarchs, the latter have been increasingly looking for methods to empty their hoard in Dubai in order to avoid attracting the notice of conservative financial regulators.
According to Reuters, people familiar with the situation have revealed a surge in Russian demands to sell their Bitcoins and invest the gains in Dubai real estate or just convert them to cash.
Due to the majority of gulf countries’ neutrality during the current Russia-Ukraine conflict and their open-ended stance to international investment, they are seen as an ideal sanctuary for individuals’ wealth. Dubai, by far the biggest and most receptive metropolis in the area, has been a target for wealthy Russians due to the ease with which they can exchange their crypto for other assets such as real estate and moveable property.
According to one crypto business, they have been inundated with demands from Swiss brokers to sell billions of dollars in Bitcoin held by its customers who are fearful that Switzerland may freeze their assets.
“In the last two weeks, we’ve got maybe five or six.” The executive of the business, who requested anonymity, said. “No one has yet come off – they’ve all fallen over at the last minute, which is not uncommon – but we’ve never had this much curiosity.” According to him, the company typically gets one large transaction every month.
“We have one individual — I’m not sure who he is, but he came via a broker – who says, ‘we want to sell 125,000 bitcoin.’ And I’m like, ‘What? That is $6 billion, gentlemen. And they’re like, ‘yes, we’re going to send it to an Australian firm,'” he said.
In an email, a spokeswoman from Switzerland’s financial watchdog, the State Secretariat for Economic Affairs SECO, reaffirmed that sanctions against Russian nationals in the country included their crypto holdings.
Another real estate brokerage company that uses the services of a cryptocurrency firm to do business with cryptocurrency-paying customers described a similar situation. “We’ve seen a significant increase in the number of Russians and even Belarusians visiting Dubai and carrying anything they can, including cryptocurrency,” an insider was quoted as saying.
Financial sources in the UAE have subsequently verified that Russians are increasingly acquiring real estate in the gulf state using cryptocurrency, even as cryptocurrency exchanges speed up attempts to blacklist sanctioned organisations, although cautiously.