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Crypto and Crime Explained

During her confirmation hearing, President-elect Joe Biden’s pick for treasury secretary spoke about crypto’s role in terrorist financing and money laundering.

Last Tuesday, in her Senate confirmation hearing, Janet Yellen – President-elect Joe Biden’s pick for Secretary of the Treasury stated that cryptocurrencies are of particular concern” for their role in expediting criminal activity, and that she will be keeping a close eye on the cryptocurrencies in her new role.

As a response to a question from Senator Maggie Hassan of New Hampshire about how Yellen’s Treasury Department will work to gather in crypto-financed crimes and terrorist financing, in particular, Yellen stated that

“We need to make sure that our methods for dealing with these matters, with tech-terrorist financing, change along with changing technology.”

She continued: “Cryptocurrencies are of particular concern. I think many are used, at least in a transaction sense, mainly for illicit financing. And I think we need to examine ways in which we can curtail their use, and make sure that anti-money laundering [sic] doesn’t occur through those channels.”

Janet Yellen, who in the past chaired the Federal Reserve from 2014 to 2018, has been critical of cryptocurrency, and Bitcoin particularly.

“I will just say outright I am not a fan,” she said of Bitcoin at a fintech conference last 2018. And also in a 2017 press event, Yellen commented that Bitcoin is “not a stable store of value, and it doesn’t constitute legal tender.”

According to recent data from the blockchain analytics firm Chainalytics, it shows that criminal transactions represented 2.1% of all crypto activity in 2019; that number eventually dropped to .34% in 2020, although the company has warned that this is a conservative estimate and that the number will emerge into something more accurate as the new scams begin to resurface.

Crypto enthusiasts that are hoping for a Bitcoin-friendly Treasury may have to keep waiting.

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