In a press conference, secretary Steven Mnuchin warned about the impact of digital currencies in the context of facilitating financial or organized crime.
The spreading of cryptocurrency is a matter of national security, said US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin in a special conference dedicated to discussing Facebook’s Libra project and digital assets in general. Pretty much, Mnuchin reiterated earlier criticisms against the digital asset markets.
“Cryptocurrency such as Bitcoin has been exploited to support billions of dollars of illicit activity like cybercrime, tax evasion, extortion, ransomware, illicit drugs, human trafficking. Many players have attempted to use cryptocurrencies to fund their malign behavior,” said Mnuchin.
Mnuchin also conflated the effect of Bitcoin and the upcoming Facebook asset, Libra, which is still only a hypothetical launch. But along with Libra, all assets are undergoing increased scrutiny. Mnuchin warned that the US FinCEN agency would track relentlessly any entity trading in either Libra or older digital assets.
“Given the international nature of cryptocurrencies, we are also going to great lengths to ensure that effective regulation does not stop here at the U.S. border,” said Mnuchin.
He warned that international oversight on digital assets would happen based on the efforts of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), an international body that last month created a set of guidelines for regulating anyone handling digital assets.
The US is indeed at the forefront of digital asset regulation, and in the past two years, regulators have curbed many trends in the digital asset space. The US Securities and Exchange Commission curbed the proliferation of ICOs by testing startups for selling unregistered securities. This also made US-based exchanges to delist some types of assets, and caused Binance to spin off its American operations, closing its international business for US customers. New token sales also exclude US buyers to avoid a stand-off with the SEC.
When asked if regulatory agencies would target any asset exclusively, Mnuchin stated that all actors would find themselves under greater oversight pressure:
“There will be more enforcement actions we’re going to beef up our resources for regulatory oversight. This is something we’re absolutely focused on and on top of,” he said.
Mnuchin believes Facebook and the Libra Association also have a long way to go before launching the actual asset and convincing regulators.