Global cryptocurrency enthusiasts have expressed concern that Canadian authorities are freezing bank accounts and cryptocurrency wallets involved in funding local protests against COVID-19.
Ontario Supreme Court Judge Calum Macleod issued an order Thursday to freeze all digital assets and bank accounts associated with the Freedom Convoy or a series of ongoing protests against COVID-19 vaccine mandates and restrictions.
According to The Toronto Star, the amount of funds currently frozen in bank accounts and digital wallets with Bitcoin (BTC) and other assets is estimated at more than $1 million.
“The names of both individuals and entities, as well as cryptocurrency wallets, have been transferred to financial institutions by the RCMP and accounts have been frozen and other accounts will be frozen,” Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland said on Thursday.
She also argued that the Canadian Financial Transactions and Reports Analysis Center (FINTRAC) “lacked the necessary authority to oversee the new world of cryptocurrencies.”
Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland: “The names of both individuals and entities, as well as cryptocurrency wallets, have been transferred by the RCMP to financial institutions and accounts have been frozen, and more accounts will be frozen.” pic.twitter.com/iA69DbRJl1 – True North ( @TrueNorthCentre February 17, 2022
Subsequently, the main supporters of the cryptocurrency reacted to this news, and the CEO of Kraken, Jesse Powell, condemned the Canadian authorities. “Litigation is for the plebeians. Might makes right in Canada. If someone disagrees, you simply confiscate their wealth, revoke their licenses, cut them out of the financial system, and kill their pets. There is no need to discuss law, politics or even rights when you have a monopoly on violence,” he wrote on Twitter.
Powell also raised concerns about cryptocurrency holders, acknowledging that it is possible that the police could force Kraken to freeze assets without the consent of the court, stating:
“100% yes, it happened / will happen, and 100% yes, we will be forced to comply. If you are concerned about this, do not store your funds in any centralized/regulated custodian. We cannot protect you. Get your coins/cash and trade only p2p.”
Anthony Pompliano, co-founder and partner of Morgan Creek Digital, noted that what is happening in Canada is very similar to the situation in China, which is commonly called an authoritarian capitalist state.
Blimey. China freezes the bank accounts of dissidents and threatens citizens who express their freedom of speech… oh wait, sorry. This is Canada. Not China. CANADA – Pomp (@APompliano) February 18, 2022
El Salvador’s President Nayib Bukele also took to Twitter to denounce the Canadian authorities for failing as the country with the highest ranking in the “democracy index”. Bukele argued that the widely publicized alleged Ukrainian-Russian crisis is a distraction, while the “real war” against freedom is taking place in countries like Canada.
The real war is not in Ukraine, but in Canada, Australia, France, Brussels, England, Germany, Italy… They just want you to look the other way. — Nayib Bukele (@nayibbule) February 13, 2022
As previously reported, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Monday invoked the Emergency Situations Act, which allowed local regulators to freeze the bank accounts of Freedom Convoy protesters and monitor “large and suspicious transactions”, including cryptocurrencies.
Related: ‘Keep Your Coins’ Bill Introduced to Limit Government Control of Cryptocurrency
The order specifically expanded the scope of Canada’s anti-money laundering and counter-terrorist financing regulations to cover crowdfunding platforms and the payment systems they use. “This change applies to all forms of transactions, including digital assets such as cryptocurrencies,” FINTRAC said on Tuesday.