Senate Democrats are pressing the Treasury Department for information over concerns that Russia could evade recently imposed sanctions via cryptocurrency.
According to The Hill, Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, Intelligence Committee Chairman Mark Warner of Virginia, Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Chairman Sherrod Brown of Ohio and Armed Services Committee Chairman Jack Reed of Rhode Island wrote a letter to Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen regarding the status of sanctions against Russia and what could be done should Russia evade them via cryptocurrency.
In the letter, they inquired about the department's "progress in monitoring and enforcing sanctions compliance by the cryptocurrency industry" before voicing their concerns "that criminals, rogue states, and other actors may use digital assets and alternative payment platforms as a new means to hide cross-border transactions for nefarious purposes."
The group then mentioned that the 2021 Sanctions Review and other reports have "warned that such digital assets and alternative payment platforms may facilitate evasion of U.S. and global sanctions, potentially undermining the efficacy of our sanctions regime."
The lawmakers went on to press the department for answers by March 23 on how its Office of Foreign Assets Control will work "with foreign governments and other participants in the international banking community to ensure that cryptocurrency is not used to evade sanctions."
Conversely, the lawmakers asked the Department of the Treasury what tools "might be necessary for OFAC to ensure that cryptocurrency participants are not able to help Russia or other malign actors evade U.S. and multilateral sanctions."
On Wednesday, Warren said that "it's been clear that drug traffickers, ransomware, crooks and tax cheats all use crypto because it's a way to move money around without the authorities being able to track it."
"So the question is," she added, "how does the Treasury assess the risk, and what are they doing about it? And that's why we're pushing right now on Treasury."
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