U.S., U.K., Australia Sanction Hamas-Affiliated Crypto Transaction Facilitators

The U.S. designated two companies that helped move crypto for Hamas, according to a Treasury Department press release.

AccessTimeIconJan 22, 2024 at 3:11 p.m. UTC
Updated Mar 8, 2024 at 8:17 p.m. UTC

The U.S. and other governments are adding a number of Hamas-affiliated financiers to a global financial blacklist, the Treasury Department's sanctions watchdog announced Monday.

Australia and the U.K. are joining the U.S.'s Office of Foreign Asset Control (OFAC) in blocking individuals and entities accused of helping Hamas facilitate crypto and non-crypto transactions from the global financial system.

In a statement, U.S. Treasury Under Secretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence Brian Nelson said Hamas used cryptocurrency as one of "a variety of financial transfer mechanisms" for support.

"Treasury, in close coordination with our allies and partners, will continue to leverage our authorities to target Hamas, its financiers, and its international financial infrastructure," he said.

No specific crypto addresses were added to the Specially Designated Nationals list, unlike typical crypto sanctions. Instead, a press release cited Israel's National Bureau for Counter Terror Financing (NBCTF) freezing 189 crypto addresses associated with three exchanges, one of which is Al-Markaziya Li-Siarafa , a company based in Gaza and Turkiye owned by Zuhair Shamlakh, an individual whose companies provide support for Hamas using crypto and fiat.

Herzallah Exchange and General Trading Company LLC also facilitated crypto and other transactions for Hamas, the press release said.

"Hamas has used multiple methods of illicitly transferring funds to the West Bank from Gaza in order to fund and support recruitment and the purchase of weapons there. Hamas has directly co-opted and utilized some corrupt money exchanges in both the West Bank and Gaza to launder funds for the terrorist group," the release said. "Since at least 2020, Hamas has also used cryptocurrency to transfer some funding in support of operational costs in the West Bank as a means of mitigating the risks of physically moving cash, circumventing border crossings, and evading monitoring by authorities."

Edited by Aoyon Ashraf.


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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.