US Treasury Warns Against Growing Use of Virtual Currencies by Terrorist Groups

By Jace Dela Cruz

Apr 09, 2024 02:42 AM EDT

The US Treasury Department has expressed concerns about the growing use of virtual currencies and other digital assets by terrorist groups unless Congress enacts new regulatory measures. 

(Photo : Frank Reppold from Pixabay)

US Treasury's Wally Adeyemo Warns About the Use of Virtual Currencies by Terrorist Groups

According to Reuters, US Deputy Treasury Secretary Wally Adeyemo, in his testimony prepared for a hearing of the Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee on Tuesday, warned that terrorist groups like al Qaeda, Hamas, and even state actors like Russia and North Korea were finding new tactics to hide their identities and transfer resources through virtual currency.

He underscored the need for expanded enforcement efforts to stop such activities by "malign actors." While acknowledging the success Treasury has had in addressing illicit financial activities in the digital realm, Adeyemo cautioned that without additional tools from Congress, these actors' use of virtual assets could continue to increase. 

He stressed the necessity of legislative action to empower the Treasury with the requisite authority to combat such threats effectively.

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US Treasury Urges Congress to Pass Legislation Aimed at Strengthening Its Tools

According to Wally Adeyemo, North Korea has utilized complex cyber heists to acquire, launder, and store illicit revenue, leveraging anonymity-enhancing technologies like mixers to obfuscate the origins of funds. 

He also highlighted Russia's growing reliance on alternative payment methods, such as the stablecoin coin tether, to evade sanctions and fund its activities.

Adeyemo asked Congress to enact legislation strengthening the Treasury's ability to go after entities and foreign digital asset providers that facilitate illicit finance.

He also said that Congress should address jurisdictional risks from offshore cryptocurrency platforms to make sure the Treasury can reach overseas when digital asset entities harm US national security.

"While we continue to assess that terrorists prefer to use traditional financial products and services, we fear that without congressional action to provide us with the necessary tools, the use of virtual assets by these actors will only grow," Adeyemo stressed, as Reuters reported.

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