New US House Bill Calls For Report, Strategy On Cryptocurrency

A bill currently in the House of Representatives calls for a report on (and strategy to combat) the use of cryptocurrencies in financing terrorism, laundering money, evading US sanctions, and otherwise threatening American national security.

  • On March 8, Rep. Mark Meadows (R-NC) and Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-NY) submitted HB5227 to the House of Representatives, where it was referred to the Financial Services Committee.

    Though the text of the bill had not been released by press time, its description relates that it would:

    “Require a report and strategy with respect to virtual currencies and other related emerging technologies being used to evade sanctions, finance terrorism, and launder monetary instruments, and threaten United States national security, and for other purposes.”

    It is not yet clear who would be responsible for drafting the report or devising the strategy.

    On March 6, HB4768 passed the House. That bill would require the president (via the Secretary of the Treasury) to “develop a national strategy to combat the financial networks of transnational organized criminals” which would include an assessment of certain risks related to digital currencies. A day later, it was received in the Senate and referred to the Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs.

    Unlike HB5227, the latest available version of HB4768 contains no mention of cryptocurrencies being used to evade sanctions.

    Some two weeks before HB5227 was submitted to Congress, Venezuela launched the presale of it’s oil-backed, state-issued cryptocurrency, the petro. Two days later, President Nicolás Maduro announced that another state-issued digital asset, this one backed by gold, would follow. Maduro had previously suggested that the petro was intended to diminish the impact of US sanctions on the nation’s economy.

    A day after the petro’s presale began, the ICT minister of Iran, which is also the subject of US sanctions, announced that a state-owned bank in the country had been working on a cryptocurrency of its own.

    Not unlike HB5227, HB2825, which passed the House and is currently in the Senate’s Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs, calls for “a threat assessment regarding the actual and potential threat posed by individuals using virtual currency to carry out activities in furtherance of an act of terrorism.”

    Another Congressional bill relating to cryptocurrency is HB5036, introduced on February 15 by Rep. Ted Budd (R-NC) and Rep. Stephen Lynch (D-MA). That bill would, among other things, help establish a system of “rewards for information leading to convictions related to terrorist use of digital currencies,” and “a FinTech Leadership in Innovation Program to encourage the development of tools and programs to combat terrorist and illicit use of digital currencies.”

    Late in 2017, HB2810, which calls for a report on the “potential offensive and defensive cyber applications of blockchain technology and other distributed database technologies,” was signed into law.

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