Dem lawmaker calls for cryptocurrency probe after Mueller indictments

Getty Images

A Democratic congressman is calling on the federal government to investigate the cryptocurrency industry out of concern that digital currencies helped enable Russian intelligence officials to interfere in the 2016 election.

In a letter to Treasury’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN), Rep. Emanuel Cleaver (D-Mo.) called on the agency to “initiate an investigation of the cryptocurrency industry and articulate further guidance to help prevent financial crimes” like those used in Russian hacking efforts.

{mosads}While Cleaver said that he recognized the “tremendous opportunities” offered by cryptocurrency, he still pressed FinCEN on how oversight of digital currencies can be improved in an effort to curb financial crimes.

“It is my hope that the government will continue to take steps to better align the public’s interest in financial technologies with the public’s interest in limiting nefarious uses of these technologies,” the congressman wrote.

In 2017, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin told Yahoo News that his agency would probe cryptocurrencies and planned to “to determine how FinCEN identifies, prioritizes, and addresses money laundering and terrorist financing risks associated with virtual currencies.”

The agency said that it has followed through on this. Treasury representatives declined to comment on if it had any ongoing investigations regarding digital tokens but said that Secretary Steve Mnuchin “has made cryptocurrency a priority.” An agency spokesperson said that Mnuchin had established a working group to tackle cryptocurrency regulation and oversight at the federal level and pointed towards FinCEN’s other work in the space including its support of 100 plus cases related to cryptocurrency in the last two years.

An aide for Cleaver said that the agency had not communicated FinCEN’s work on this to them directly, nor was his office aware of any investigations. The agency said it’s a matter of policy to not discuss ongoing investigations.

A top FinCEN official testified before the House Financial Services Committee in June, though, and outlined the organization‘s work on addressing illicit use cases.

Cleaver’s urging comes after special counsel Robert Mueller’s most recent indictment, which alleges that Russian hackers had used Bitcoin in an effort to cover their tracks as they paid for things like server space.

Cleaver, who is a member of the House Financial Services Committee, has called for increased oversight on cryptocurrencies.

In February, he penned letters to the Bitcoin Foundation and Digital Chamber of Commerce urging them to examine how to keep white supremacists who have been pushed from other financial tech services, including Venmo and PayPal, from using cryptocurrency.  

Tags Robert Mueller Steven Mnuchin
See all Hill.TV See all Video