Payeer Fined €9.3 Million for Money Laundering Involving Russian Clients: A Comprehensive Review

Payeer Fined €9.3 Million for Money Laundering Involving Russian Clients: A Comprehensive Review
Photo by Hassan Anayi / Unsplash


The Lithuanian Financial Crime Investigation Service (FNTT) has imposed a historic fine of €9.3 million on the cryptocurrency company Payeer for facilitating money laundering involving Russian clients. This article delves into the details of the case, the implications of the fine, and the broader context of cryptocurrency regulations and sanctions enforcement within the European Union.

The Historic Fine

FNTT's decision to fine Payeer €9.3 million marks the largest penalty ever levied by the agency. The official statement from FNTT accuses Payeer of violating EU sanctions and enabling money laundering activities with Russian clients. This penalty underscores the EU's commitment to enforcing financial regulations and curbing illicit financial activities.

Violation of EU Sanctions

According to FNTT, Payeer allowed Russian users to conduct transactions in rubles, transferring funds from banks that are under EU sanctions. This action directly contravenes EU regulations designed to restrict financial interactions with sanctioned entities and individuals. By providing a platform for these transactions, Payeer facilitated activities that the EU aims to prevent through its sanction policies.

Access to Cryptocurrency Services

Payeer also provided Russian individuals and entities with access to its cryptocurrency wallet service, enabling them to manage accounts and store digital assets. This access allowed sanctioned users to bypass traditional banking restrictions and continue their financial activities through cryptocurrency, which is often less regulated and more challenging to monitor.

Timeline and Registration

Payeer registered in Lithuania in 2022 and began offering its services in 2023 after Estonia revoked its license. Despite relocating, the company continued to operate in a manner that violated international laws. Over 213,000 clients utilized Payeer's services during this period, generating revenue exceeding €164 million.

Investigation Findings

The investigation by FNTT revealed that Payeer had significant shortcomings in its compliance procedures. The company failed to properly verify the identities of its clients, prioritizing revenue over regulatory compliance. Payeer's management did not cooperate with FNTT and failed to provide necessary explanations regarding its operations.

Reporting and Internal Controls

FNTT's findings highlighted several deficiencies in Payeer's internal policies and procedures related to client identification, risk assessment, and reporting. The company did not report cryptocurrency transactions equal to or exceeding €15,000 to FNTT, as required by law. This lack of transparency and adherence to regulatory standards contributed to the substantial fine imposed on the company.

Breakdown of the Fine

The total fine of €9.3 million comprises €8.24 million for violating international sanctions and an additional €1.06 million for breaching anti-money laundering laws. This record-breaking fine reflects the severity of Payeer's misconduct and serves as a warning to other cryptocurrency service providers about the importance of regulatory compliance.

Broader Context: Sanctions and Cryptocurrency Regulations

The fine against Payeer is part of a broader effort by the EU to enforce sanctions and regulate cryptocurrency activities. In April 2024, US Senators Elizabeth Warren and Roger Marshall raised concerns about Russia potentially using stablecoins like USDT to evade sanctions. This highlights the increasing scrutiny on cryptocurrency transactions and the potential for digital assets to be used in circumventing financial restrictions.

EU's New Sanction Rules

In the same month, the European Council approved a new set of sanction rules for EU countries. These rules grant EU member states the authority to freeze cryptocurrency wallets belonging to sanctioned countries, companies, and individuals. The regulations also allow the EU to impose fines on violators, further strengthening the bloc's ability to enforce compliance.


The €9.3 million fine imposed on Payeer by FNTT serves as a significant milestone in the enforcement of cryptocurrency regulations and sanctions within the EU. It underscores the importance of compliance with international laws and the potential consequences for companies that facilitate illicit financial activities. As the cryptocurrency landscape continues to evolve, regulatory bodies worldwide are likely to increase their oversight to prevent misuse and ensure the integrity of financial systems.