Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin

Mnuchin: stricter crypto AML rules coming ‘very quickly’

At a Senate Finance Committee hearing, the Treasury Secretary said FinCEN was prepping to release ‘significant’ new requirements for virtual currencies

The U.S. is joining regulators around the globe in moving to enforce tougher cryptocurrency anti-money laundering policies, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said yesterday. 

At a hearing before the Senate Finance Committee, Mnuchin warned that the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network, or FinCEN, is getting ready to put out “significant new requirements” around virtual currencies.

“We want to make sure that technology moves forward, but on the other hand, we want to make sure that cryptocurrencies aren’t used for the equivalent of old Swiss secret number bank accounts,” he said. 

Mnuchin’s comments came in response to a question by Sen. Maggie Hassan (D-N.H.). She expressed concern that terrorists and criminal organizations are increasingly using crypto to finance their activities “due in no small part to difficulty in tracing transactions and tying funds to specific actors.” She then asked how the department planned to use a proposed budget increase to combat the problem.

FinCEN and the Treasury Department are “spending a lot of time on this,” Mnuchin said, adding that the agencies were working with some of the U.S. regulators on the issue. “You’ll be seeing a lot of work coming out very quickly,” he said, while avoiding specifics.  

Mnuchin’s comments come at a time when governments worldwide are changing the way they regulate crypto assets to comply with new guidance put forth by the Financial Action Task Force last year. The international body, which creates policies to combat money laundering and the financing of terrorism, is followed by about 200 countries, including the U.S.   

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Amy Castor has more than 20 years' experience in journalism. Her work on crypto and blockchain has appeared in consumer and trade publications throughout the U.S., including CoinDesk, Forbes, Bitcoin Magazine, and The Block.