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Why is Senator Elizabeth Warren Criticizing Crypto Lobbying Efforts?

Walter Swift

ByWalter Swift

Dec 22, 2023

Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass) went after cryptospace players again. This time, the legislator expressed her opposition to the lobbying attempts made by actors, including the Blockchain Association and Coinbase.

In a December 18 letter to Kristin Smith, CEO of the Blockchain Association, Warren iterated that terrorists used cryptocurrencies for financing activities. The move comes as she continues to push anti-crypto legislation forward. 

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Additionally, Warren highlighted that crypto firms are investing millions in assembling a team of former defense and law enforcement personnel to challenge recent regulations.

The sector has been actively advocating for clear regulations concerning cryptocurrencies. The industry focuses on seeking regulatory clarity rather than endorsing bills that could potentially dismantle everything.

The Letter Hit Back at the Blockchain Association

In her letter, Senator Warren criticized attempts by crypto-related groups to influence Congress. Additionally, she indicated that such efforts clashed with the governmental fight to prevent groups like Hamas from using cryptocurrencies to fund their activities.

However, blockchain analytics firms have challenged the Wall Street Journal (on October 10, 2023) claims cited by Warren, asserting that the amount involved is much smaller, in the thousands rather than tens of millions of dollars.

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Regardless of the debunked claims, Coin Center defended rallying like-minded individuals to oppose legislation they disagree with.  They emphasized that this action is an exercise of the right to associate and to petition the government, which should not be subject to criticism based on motives.

Revolving Door Ethical Concerns were Raised

Senator Warren also criticized the “revolving door” practice within the industry. She accused the crypto sector of vehemently resisting sane regulations aimed at curbing the misuse of cryptocurrency for funding terrorist activities, fearing these rules might impact their profits. She sought details regarding the employment of former government officials by crypto firms, expressing worry over the potential influence of public officials transitioning into private-sector roles. 

This concern revolves around their possible impact on laws and regulations related to cryptocurrency anti-money laundering efforts and counterterrorism measures. A study conducted by Public Citizen in 2019 revealed that nearly two-thirds of former members of the 115th Congress pursued careers outside of politics. 

Many of them exerted influence over federal policies through roles in lobbying or strategic consulting, indicating their continued involvement in shaping government decisions.

On December 11, US Senator Elizabeth Warren introduced a bill that tackles the alleged misuse of digital currencies in illicit activities like money laundering, drug trafficking, sanctions evasion, and more. The legislation, supported by a coalition within the Banking Committee, signifies efforts to enhance oversight and regulation in the Bitcoin and cryptocurrency realm. 

Consequently, the senator reiterated that digital currencies are exploited for criminal purposes and stressed the necessity for stringent regulatory measures to combat this.

She also expressed satisfaction in seeing five new senators, including three Banking Committee members, join the effort, noting that their bipartisan bill represents the most resilient approach to addressing the illicit use of crypto and provides regulators with more effective tools.

The bill seeks to enforce stricter reporting requirements by expanding the Bank Secrecy Act (BSA) responsibilities, including Know-Your-Customer (KYC) obligations and reporting on “transactions involving unhosted wallets.” These measures aim to close loopholes and bring greater compliance to the digital asset ecosystem.

The proposed legislation garnered support from various entities, including the Bank Policy Institute, Massachusetts Bankers Association, Transparency International, Global Financial Integrity, National District Attorneys Association, Major County Sheriffs of America, AARP, National Consumer Law Center, and National Consumers League. It also coincides with the increasing popularity and adoption of Bitcoin globally, particularly in the United States. 

With the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) set to decide next month on the first US spot Bitcoin exchange-traded fund (ETF), approval could result in significant institutional and retail demand for BTC.

On December 7, Senator Warren appeared on CNBC, alleging that North Korea utilizes Bitcoin and crypto to fund nearly half of its nuclear weapons program.

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Walter Swift

Walter Swift

Walter Swift is an adept crypto writer, known for his deep insights into the decentralized world. His pieces artfully break down complex blockchain topics, making them accessible to a broad audience. With a passion for emerging technologies, Walter's articles are a beacon for crypto enthusiasts and novices alike.

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