Sen. Lummis: Crypto not the problem, bad actors are

Discord regarding Bitcoin and cryptocurrencies persists between U.S. lawmakers after a year of growth for global adoption and the coming of spot BTC ETFs.

Senator Cynthia Lummis disagreed with her fellow Senator Elizabeth Warren following comments from the latter over illicit wealth funneled through cryptocurrencies by criminals worldwide.

Sen. Warren pointed to a single case of $900,000 laundered by the notorious Sinaloa Cartel using digital assets supported by blockchain technology. Warren cited the matter while arguing for stricter measures on crypto and virtual currencies due to the widespread illegal activities carried out via these emerging assets.

A new @USGAO report confirms that rogue nations are using crypto to dodge sanctions and undermine our national security.

It’s time for crypto to follow the same anti-money laundering rules as everyone else. I’ve got a bill to make it happen. https://t.co/TUX2sJ8HR0

— Elizabeth Warren (@SenWarren) January 21, 2024

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However, as Lummis highlighted, Warren failed to mention nearly $1 billion in money laundering operations masterminded by the same cartel in previous years. This $900 million of criminal cash was filtered through monetary systems using fiat currencies.

The data contradicts Warren’s claims that crypto is the primary channel for money laundering and criminal financing.

Crypto is clearly not the problem. Criminals and bad actors are. It would be a historic mistake to crush an entire emerging industry based on incorrect data.

Senator Cynthia Lummis

Chainalysis noted a 39% drop in illicit crypto transactions received throughout 2023. Despite this decrease amounting to $24.1 billion, reports show that criminal activity tied to cryptocurrencies also declined below 0.35%, indicating a shift in asset preference for bad actors.

Global crypto usage increased by 34% in the same year, with over $580 million individuals around the world holding some form of cryptocurrency. In the U.S., this has meant more scrutiny of digital assets as watchdogs like the Securities and Exchange Commission sued a basket of crypto businesses and operators for alleged violations. The regulator has cases against Binance and Coinbase, the largest crypto exchanges.

Coinbase, in particular, has promised to pursue litigation against the SEC for the regulator’s refusal to provide comprehensive and clear guidelines for compliant digital asset service providers.

Read more: Analyst: Coinbase poised to win dismissal over SEC lawsuit


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