Crypto-Friendly Lawmakers Ask Biden, Yellen to Quantify Hamas' Digital Asset Fundraising

Lawmakers want to know to what extent Hamas may actually be raising crypto funds to finance terrorism, and what role the U.S. has had in seizing those funds.

AccessTimeIconNov 15, 2023 at 6:38 p.m. UTC

A group of lawmakers asked U.S. President Joe Biden and Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen to quantify to what extent terror group Hamas might be using cryptocurrency to raise funds, hours before members of the House Financial Services Committee were set to hold a hearing on the issue.

The Tuesday letter cites recent Wall Street Journal reporting and blog posts from crypto analytics firms, saying there is a concern about Hamas receiving crypto funds but that "it remains unclear" the extent to which this is a problem.

"Congress must understand the size, scope, and duration of Hamas’s digital asset operations, as well as whether the United States has had success in seizing illicit digital assets," the letter said. "It is important to understand the scope of Hamas’s digital assets fundraising campaign in the context of its traditional funding activities. Not accounting for the funds Hamas receives from Iran or through donations, it is estimated that Hamas’s global investment portfolio generates hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue. This could far exceed the amount Hamas has received through digital asset donations."

The letter lists a number of questions for the Treasury Department and administration, ranging from how long Hamas may have been raising crypto to how much in digital assets the organization may have actually raised.

Other questions are meant to examine the U.S.'s role in sanctioning wallets and seizing funds that may be tied to Hamas or other organizations.

The letter was signed by House Financial Services Committee Chair Patrick McHenry (R-N.C.), Majority Whip Tom Emmer (R-Minn.), Reps. French Hill (R-Ark.), Ritchie Torres (D-N.Y.), Josh Gottheimer (D-N.J.) and over 50 other House representatives, mostly Republicans.

The Digital Assets, Financial Technology and Inclusion Subcommittee under House Financial Services will hold a hearing on illicit activity in digital assets later Wednesday, featuring crypto industry representatives and money laundering experts.

Edited by Jesse Hamilton.


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Nikhilesh De

Nikhilesh De is CoinDesk's managing editor for global policy and regulation. He owns marginal amounts of bitcoin and ether.