United States (US) Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts has garnered increased support from influential lawmakers, marking a significant development in the burgeoning coalition advocating for comprehensive legislation aimed at combatting money laundering and sanctions violations within the cryptocurrency sphere.
This recent wave of sponsorship includes the backing of Senator Dick Durbin of Illinois, who serves as the Chairman of the Judiciary Committee; Senator Gary Peters of Michigan, a prominent figure leading the Homeland Security panel; independent Senator Angus King; and six others.
In the statement, she pointed out:
“Crypto is enabling rogue nations, drug lords, ransomware gangs, and fraudsters to launder billions in stolen funds, evade sanctions, fund illegal weapons programs, and profit from devastating cyberattacks.”
Senator Elizabeth’s ongoing efforts to secure sponsors for her latest iteration of the Digital Asset Anti-Money Laundering Act https://www.govtrack.us/congress/bills/118/s2669 are noteworthy, signalling a concerted push to address critical issues within the crypto sector.
Originally introduced in December 2022 and subsequently resubmitted just last month, the current legislative endeavour, supported by Senators Joe Manchin, Roger Marshall, and Lindsey Graham, carries the primary objective of rectifying regulatory gaps and aligning the digital asset ecosystem with robust compliance standards.
If successfully passed into law, this legislation would expand the existing regulatory framework, traditionally applicable to conventional financial institutions, to encompass cryptocurrency entities.
Consequently, these entities, including digital asset wallet providers, miners, and validators, would find themselves subject to the Know Your Customer (KYC) and Anti-Money Laundering (AML) provisions articulated within the Bank Secrecy Act (BSA).
One of the focal points of this legislative document revolves around the scrutiny of noncustodial, or “unhosted” crypto wallets, which are defined as software or hardware mechanisms facilitating the secure storage of public and private keys used for digital asset transactions, wherein the wallet owner retains full independent control over the stored value.
Senator Elizabeth’s proposal revolves around the requirement for banks and money service businesses to undertake the verification of customer and counterparty identities, maintain meticulous transaction records, and dutifully file reports pertaining to specified digital asset transactions involving unhosted wallets or wallets domiciled in jurisdictions that lack BSA compliance.
Senator Lindsey mentioned:
“All too often crypto is used to move illicit funds for drug cartels, criminal gangs, terrorist groups and kidnappers. Our legislation will help create transparency and provide oversight in an industry that in many cases helps facilitate criminal activity. When it comes to transparency and legality, many of the same rules that apply to the dollar should exist for crypto.”
Furthermore, the bill casts its net wider, encompassing US residents who possess cumulative crypto holdings exceeding $10,000 dispersed across one or more offshore accounts.
These residents would be compelled to furnish requisite reports under the proposed legislation.
Nevertheless, the path to passing this legislation remains clouded by uncertainty, particularly in the context of a politically divided Congress embarking on a contentious election year.
While strides have been made in the House of Representatives concerning two separate crypto bills, neither appears to be a direct match for Senator Elizabeth’s proposal.
The legislative landscape is further complicated by the active resistance of crypto lobbyists, who contend that the measures put forth could potentially stifle digital asset innovation within the US, albeit in the interest of bolstering market security.