Him Das, the acting director of the United States Financial Crimes Enforcement Network, or FinCEN, said some of the government bureau’s tools to fight money laundering and terrorism financing may be ill suited for crypto.
In a Thursday hearing of the House Financial Services Committee on “Oversight of the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network,” Das addressed concerns from lawmakers regarding FinCEN’s authority to pursue information on illicit digital asset transactions. Kentucky Representative Andy Barr said many of the current “special measures” FinCEN was authorized to use under Section 311 of the PATRIOT Act were “rarely used,” while Das hinted that digital assets were essentially new ground for the law aimed at Anti-Money Laundering, or AML, and Countering the Financing of Terrorism, or CFT.
“Section 311 was enacted in a time when most financial relationships and transactions were done through the traditional banking system where there are traditional correspondent account relationships,” said Das. “Nowadays, cross-border transactions often include money services businesses, payment systems, […] foreign exchange houses as well as cryptocurrency.”
Das added that FinCEN’s current authority under the PATRIOT Act would likely not stop actors from engaging in illicit transactions for ransomware attacks and darknet markets:
“Currently, the Section 311 authority is not right-sized for the types of threats that we’re seeing through the use of cryptocurrency.”