The New York Times Company
WASHINGTON — The Trump administration plans to introduce regulations for cryptocurrencies that are intended to crack down on their use in facilitating money laundering and other illicit activities, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said Wednesday.
Mnuchin told lawmakers that the regulations were being developed with other agencies and financial regulators to improve transparency surrounding digital currencies like Bitcoin. The administration has expressed growing concern over the use of such currencies to anonymously execute illegal transactions and potentially evade U.S. sanctions on countries like Iran.
“We are about to roll out some significant new requirements,” Mnuchin said during a hearing before the Senate Finance Committee. “We want to make sure that technology moves forward; on the other hand, we want to make sure cryptocurrencies aren’t used for the equivalent of old Swiss secret number banking.”
Mnuchin did not provide details of what the regulations would entail. He said that they would provide greater transparency so that law enforcement could see where money was going and ensure that it was not being used to aid money laundering.
After playing down the risks of cryptocurrencies at the beginning of President Donald Trump’s term, Mnuchin said over the summer that they posed a national security threat. He also said that he had “very serious concerns” about Libra, the digital currency that Facebook is developing.
The United States is also exploring the costs and benefits of developing its own digital currency. While Mnuchin said Wednesday that he did not believe one was necessary in the next several years, Jerome H. Powell, the chair of the Federal Reserve, said at a separate Senate hearing that the central bank had been studying what one would look like.
“The benefits would include perhaps greater financial inclusion, lower costs, more convenience,” Powell said, noting that there would also be a risk for more fraud and reduced privacy. “There’s a lot to weigh and a lot to work on there.”