U.S. Treasury Says It Wants to Better Money Laundering Regulations Around Crypto, Other Illicit Finance

The Department released its 2024 strategy for addressing illicit financing on Thursday.

AccessTimeIconMay 16, 2024 at 4:00 p.m. UTC

The U.S. Treasury Department wants to continue beefing up anti-money laundering and counter-terrorist financing efforts around digital assets, as part of its broader strategy to tamp down on illicit financing.

The department published its 2024 "National Strategy for Combatting Terrorist and Other Illicit Financing" strategy on Thursday, outlining its priorities for taking on illicit financing. Treasury highlighted its ongoing work around crypto, including sanctions against certain exchanges and groups like Bitzlato and Lazarus, its settlement with Binance and its warnings about pig butchering scams. The annual document lays out how Treasury is looking at illicit finance and what role crypto regulations may play in tamping down on this issue.

Broadly, Thursday's strategy document said its four priorities are closing gaps in anti-money laundering regulations, supporting "a more effective and risk-focused" framework, boosting law enforcement agencies' effectiveness and taking advantage of technology innovations.

Updating existing supervisory frameworks for cryptocurrencies would support these priorities, the strategy document said.

This includes potential updates to the U.S. regulatory framework (for anti-money laundering and countering terrorism financing) as well as working on "global implementation of [Financial Action Task Force] standards," the document said.

"Successfully applying the existing AML/CFT supervisory and enforcement framework to virtual asset activities requires that the United States allocate sufficient supervisory and enforcement resources and continue to invest in technology and training for analysts, investigators, and regulators to develop further expertise related to new technologies, including analysis of public blockchain data," the document said.

In a press call, a Treasury official said Deputy Treasury Secretary Wally Adeyemo and Under Secretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence Brian Nelson have discussed the department's request for greater authority and oversight of certain crypto issues with legislators.

"I can say we're going to keep working with Congress to provide technical assistance [with those] proposals, and it remains a priority for leadership in this building to get those authorities," they said.

In Thursday's document, Treasury said it would continue monitoring how digital asset payments – including decentralized finance – are evolving, provide technical assistance to Congress, continue looking at its use of sanctions and seek more funding for the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network and Office of Foreign Asset Control.

Edited by Nick Baker.


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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.