Coinbase’s CLO Criticizes U.S. GAO for Lack of Analysis on Crypto Sanctions Risk

David Pokima
Last updated: | 2 min read
Coinbase's CLO Criticizes U.S. GAO for Lack of Analysis on Crypto Sanctions Risk
Source: Adobe / Rafael Henrique

Coinbase‘s chief legal officer Paul Grewal has criticized the United States Government Accountability Office (GAO) following its recent report describing crypto as a tool for foreign entities to evade sanctions.

In a series of posts on X (formerly Twitter), the Coinbase executive expressed his displeasure with the report saying it shows zero comparative analysis carried out by the organization.

He noted that without any critical study on issues raised, they are quick to attack the industry that spends millions per year to achieve regulatory compliance.

Heck, zero analysis whatsoever performed.  Instead, they harangue an industry that spends millions and millions to follow the law. Ask yourself— why?”

Grewal also hit back at the report as deceptive because it includes links that admit digital assets are a poor way to dodge international sanctions.

The release admitted that cryptocurrencies have limitations in evading public sanctions as their nature allows them to be traced on public blockchains.

Apart from the decentralized nature of crypto, blockchain technology has been lauded among several institutions including the United Nations as a decentralized public ledger for tracking transactions.

It also stated that the United States Department of Justice (DOJ) has traced transactions by individuals trying to evade Venezuelan oil sanctions, further substantiating that digital assets are not an effective tool for avoiding US sanctions.

Coinbase fights for the market


Furthermore, he noted US taxpayers funded this “shoddy” work, making it an attempt by authorities to burn people’s funds to discredit the industry.

Coinbase continues to be present in its public defense of the crypto industry through lawsuits and national lobby efforts.

Following its lawsuit against the SEC, in which Coinbase vowed to defend itself, the exchange has sought regulatory clarity in the United States to outline multiple benefits or clear rules.

Last year, Coinbase announced international expansion plans flagging markets with clear rules like Brazil, Europe, Singapore, etc before choosing Ireland as its European base.

Virtual assets  flagged by GAO


On Jan 16, the GAO released a report stating that digital assets can impede the use of sanctions to deter foreign nations from going against the U.S. government interests by transferring huge values and masking identities.

“But sanctioned entities are using digital assets, like Bitcoin or other cryptocurrencies, to hide their transactions. These alternative assets also can allow countries to generate funds from cybercrime and other illegal or illicit activities the U.S. looks to stem through sanctions.” 

Sen Elizabeth Warren highlighted the report in her recent quest for more regulations around digital assets seeking similar anti-money laundering rules like those in traditional finance.