Deputy U.S. Treasury Secretary Puts “Bad Actors” in Crypto on Notice, Delivers Remarks at D.C. Policy Summit

Julia Smith
Last updated: | 2 min read

U.S. Deputy Treasury Secretary, Wally Adeyemo, had choice words for “bad actors” in the crypto space while delivering remarks at the Blockchain Association’s Policy Summit in D.C. Wednesday.

“We will find you and hold you accountable”

“I want to directly address those within the digital asset industry who believe they are above the law, those that willfully turn a blind eye to the law, and those that promote assets and services that aid criminals, terrorists, and rogue states,” Adeyemo said. “My message is simple: We will find you and hold you accountable.”

Adeyemo pointed out that firms part of the American financial system have “invested in tools, personnel, and processes that help us identify and capture criminals, terrorists, and others that seek to move money illegally.”

“We need those in the digital asset industry to do the same,” Adeyemo stated.

Taking action

Adeyemo’s remarks echo those provided in a statement Wednesday by the U.S. Treasury Department following their imposed sanctions on crypto mixer, Sinbad, a “key money laundering tool” backed by the North Korean government.

“While we encourage responsible innovation in the digital asset ecosystem, we will not hesitate to take action against illicit actors,” Adeyemo said.

Adeyemo then used crypto exchange, Binance, as an example of the U.S. government’s commitment to accountability. Just last week, Binance founder, Changpeng “CZ” Zhao, pleaded guilty to violating numerous federal statutes, including the Bank Secrecy Act, and stepped down from his role as CEO of the company.

Binance will have to pay $4.3 billion in penalties and forfeitures while adhering to strict monitoring and reporting guidelines set out by the Department of Justice. Additionally, the crypto exchange must make a “complete exit” from the U.S. market.

Cracking down on crypto

The U.S. government has been cracking down on the crypto industry as a whole, with the Senate and House holding numerous hearings on crypto crime and regulations.

“We know that bad actors prey on vulnerabilities wherever they can find them,” said House Financial Services Committee Chairman Patrick McHenry in a hearing by the Subcommittee on Digital Assets, Financial Technology, and Inclusion. “There’s a bipartisan agreement, though, that we must hold these bad actors to account in every way possible and, specifically, when it comes to digital assets and the digital asset ecosystem.”

The political discussions surrounding crypto coincide with larger events affecting the industry, including reports of Hamas’ illicit use of digital assets and the landmark fraud trial of FTX founder, Sam Bankman-Fried, earlier this month. 

“As terrorists and criminals innovate their approach to illicit finance, we need tools to be able to keep up with them,” Adeyemo concluded. “These reforms will not only help us curb illicit finances, but they will also level the playing field for the actors pursuing responsible and beneficial innovation and facilitate sustainable growth for the industry.”