By Tanaya Macheel
Crypto exchanges have improved their anti-money laundering compliance (AML), but the the Treasury Department's next priority is to remind them about the looming threat of terrorist financing.
“A lot of exchanges start right out and say things like ‘we’ll accept transactions from anywhere in the world,’” Christine Duhaime, a financial crime lawyer at Duhaime Law and founder and CEO of the Digital Finance Institute, told Cheddar Thursday.
“You can’t. There are certain sanctions in place that prevent you from taking money from Syria, for example, or Iran.”
On Wednesday, the U.S. Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) said it will now include Bitcoin wallet addresses of people on its Specially Designated Nationals list to its collection of their information, which also includes physical addresses, post office boxes, email addresses and aliases. The SDNs are individuals, groups, and entities like terrorists and narcotics traffickers designated under programs that are not country-specific. The update came as it added two residents of Iran, Ali Khorashadizadeh and Mohammad Ghorbaniyan, and their Bitcoin addresses to that list.
Blacklisting wallets is the next wave of AML law, and that now-infrequent action will become far more mainstream than it is currently, Duhaime said.
Many in the crypto community don’t see the point, since users can easily create a new wallet with a different wallet address, but she said any government oversight on bad actors is a positive step.
“We blacklist people and we blacklist bank accounts and we blacklist companies,” she said. "Sure, you can create another company, you can do all these things to maneuver your way around sanctions, but if we don’t do anything – that’s not a solution.”
The exchanges themselves could do more to prevent bad actors and their transactions, including ransom payments and digital currencies, she said.
“What they want to do is be everything to everybody but they can't. It’s hard sometimes for them to identify if someone’s opening a wallet from a country that is sanctioned so they have to look at more sophisticated things like… where’s the IP address coming from – but that might not give you the whole story because they might have a VPN," Duhaime said.
"You have to be a lot more technology-savvy to make sure you’re stopping transactions from sanctioned countries.”
For full interview click here.