U.S. FinCEN Makes Cryptocurrency a National Priority

FinCEN sees virtual currencies as “a major financial innovation” and says they are the “preferred method of payment” for a variety of illegal activities.

The U.S. Treasury Department’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) released its first list of government priorities on Wednesday, with FinCEN identifying eight priorities, including corruption, cybercrime involving virtual currencies, terrorist financing, fraud, transnational criminal organization activity, drug trafficking, human trafficking and counter-proliferation financing of weapons of mass destruction.

U.S. FinCEN Makes Cryptocurrency a National Priority

FinCEN sees virtual currencies as “a major financial innovation” but says they are the “preferred method of payment” for a variety of illicit activities, including ransomware, illicit drugs and even “used by some of the most advanced threat actors to facilitate their illegal activities and nuclear weapons ambitions. They have been used by some of the most advanced threat actors to further their illegal activities and nuclear weapons ambitions.

According to FinCEN’s statement, the agency will later issue regulations specifying how financial institutions should incorporate these priorities into their risk-based AML (anti-money laundering) programs.

U.S. FinCEN Makes Cryptocurrency a National Priority

FinCEN has been grappling with its approach to cryptocurrencies since late 2020, when the Treasury Department proposed a highly controversial rule that would require cryptocurrency exchanges to identify individual wallets that make large transactions.

FinCEN’s addition of virtual currencies and cybercrime to its list of priorities also comes on the heels of several high-profile ransomware attacks, such as the Colonial Pipeline hack, in which criminals used bitcoin as a payment method.

In a statement, FinCEN said, “Treasury is particularly concerned about cyber financial crime, ransomware attacks, and the misuse of virtual assets to exploit and undermine their innovative potential, including the laundering of illicit proceeds.”

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