|Treasury Secretary Mnuchin|
By Robert Wenzel
US Treasury Secretary Steve Munchin held a press conference at the White House on Monday to discuss cryptocurrencies.
It was not a press conference designed to comfort those using any cryptocurrencies in a manner that hides user identities.
“We will not allow digital asset service providers to operate in the shadows,” he said.
- tax evasion
- illicit drugs
- human trafficking
He added, “What I will tell you is the President does have concerns as it relates to bitcoin and cryptocurrencies and those are legitimate concerns.”
The timing of the press conference seemed to be in response to the announcement that Facebook planned to launch a digital currency, Libra.
Mnuchin said he is “not comfortable” with Libra launching at this time. Mnuchin went on to say that Facebook has much work to do before he will be convinced of its compliance with regulations that require customers to be identified.
But clearly, his focus was on much more than Libra.
He said he would be discussing cryptocurrencies with G7 finance ministers during meetings in Paris this Wednesday and Thursday, and that both G7 and G20 members are on board with regulation of the cryptocurrency sector.
“We don’t want bad actors using cryptocurrencies,” he said and noted that FinCEN (The Financial Crimes Enforcement Network) has multiple investigations ongoing.
Mnuchin also highlighted the Finacial Stability Oversight Council Working Group on Digital Assets which he formed in 2018.
The FSOC Working Group on Digital Assets includes top regulatory officials at the SEC, CFTC, and the Fed in addition to FinCEN. This is from where they will coordinate whatever they have in store for cryptocurrencies.
If Mnuchin decides to take down cryptocurrencies the plan will be developed by this working group.
“Bitcoin is highly volatile and based on thin air,” Mnuchin said. “We are concerned about the speculative nature of bitcoin and will make sure that the U.S. financial system is protected from fraud.”
“This is indeed a national security issue,” he added.