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U.S. Treasury prioritizes stronger crypto regulations to combat illicit finance

The U.S. Treasury Department has unveiled its 2024 strategy for tackling terrorist and other illicit financing, placing a strong emphasis on tightening money laundering regulations related to digital assets like cryptocurrencies.

In a recently published document titled “National Strategy for Combatting Terrorist and Other Illicit Financing,” the department highlighted its ongoing efforts to enhance anti-money laundering (AML) and counter-terrorist financing (CTF) measures for cryptocurrencies. This strategy reflects the increasing importance of addressing the unique challenges posed by digital assets in the financial sector.

Key priorities for addressing illicit finance

The annual strategy outlines four main priorities to address illicit finance: closing regulatory gaps, improving the regulatory framework’s effectiveness, enhancing law enforcement capabilities, and leveraging technological advancements.

Updating the regulatory framework for cryptocurrencies falls under the second priority and may involve changes to U.S. AML and CTF laws, as well as implementing global FATF standards. The strategy document states that applying the AML/CFT framework to virtual assets requires sufficient supervisory resources and investment in technology and training.

global implementation of [Financial Action Task Force] standards

U.S. Treasury Department

At a press briefing, a spokesperson from the Treasury Department noted that Deputy Treasury Secretary, Wally Adeyemo and Under Secretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence, Brian Nelson have urged lawmakers to grant enhanced authority and oversight regarding cryptocurrency matters. They emphasized their commitment to ongoing cooperation with Congress, aiming to provide technical assistance and obtain the necessary additional powers.

The Treasury Department has taken action against several crypto exchanges and groups facilitating illicit activities. Notable examples include sanctioning Bitzlato, a digital asset service provider accused of enabling money laundering, and the Lazarus Group, linked to North Korea and various cybercrimes. These actions underscore the Treasury’s commitment to enforcing AML and CTF regulations in the digital asset sector.

Settlement with Binance

Binance, the world’s largest cryptocurrency exchange by trading volume, reached a settlement with the U.S. Treasury Department. This agreement marked a pivotal moment in holding Binance accountable for suspected breaches of U.S. sanctions against Iran and North Korea.

The settlement highlights the importance of robust regulatory frameworks and enhanced cooperation between law enforcement agencies and cryptocurrency platforms to combat money laundering and terrorist financing schemes involving digital assets. It serves as a testament to the necessity for stringent regulations and collaborative efforts in the digital finance sector.

a more effective and risk-focused

U.S. Treasury Department

In August 2022, the Treasury Department warned about pig butchering scams, where fraudsters use cryptocurrencies to trick victims into sending money under false pretenses. These scams, often targeting elderly individuals, highlight the need for increased awareness and protective measures in the crypto space.

Staying informed about and using technological advancements is crucial for the U.S. Treasury Department in combating money laundering and terrorist financing activities involving digital currencies. Understanding trends in digital currencies and blockchain analysis is essential for detecting and preventing unlawful financial transactions.

The strategy document emphasizes the need for adequate supervisory and enforcement resources and ongoing investment in technology and training for analysts, investigators, and regulators. This includes analyzing public blockchain data to effectively detect and prevent illicit activities.

The U.S. Treasury’s 2024 strategy highlights its commitment to enhancing regulations and measures to combat illicit finance in the digital asset sector. By updating regulatory frameworks, imposing sanctions, issuing warnings, and leveraging technological innovations, the department aims to address the challenges posed by cryptocurrencies and ensure a secure financial environment.

As the digital finance landscape evolves, the Treasury’s proactive approach will be crucial in preventing money laundering, terrorist financing, and other illicit activities. Focusing on robust regulations, effective enforcement, and technological advancements will help safeguard the financial system and protect against emerging threats.

The Treasury also plans to monitor the evolution of digital asset payments, including decentralized finance, provide technical assistance to Congress, maintain sanctions, and seek more funding for the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) and the Office of Foreign Asset Control (OFAC). These efforts are essential for defending against illicit financial activities in the complex world of digital assets.