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U.S. treasury reports highlight cash as money laundering kingpin

In this post:

  • Despite rising cryptocurrency concerns, the US Treasury’s 2024 report finds cash still primary in money laundering.
  • Traditional banking and money transmitters remain the top channels for laundering activities.
  • Fraud is the main laundering driver, especially through investment and healthcare schemes.

The US Treasury Department’s 2024 National Risks Assessments report underscores that, despite the growing concern over cryptocurrencies in illicit finance, traditional cash remains the dominant medium for money laundering activities. This revelation comes amidst increasing scrutiny of the role of digital assets in financing operations deemed illegal, including those by terrorist organizations.

Treasury targets crypto in financial crimes

The Treasury’s findings reveal a persistent reliance on fiat currencies for laundering money, with banks and money transmitters being the channels of choice for such activities. This preference for conventional methods underscores law enforcement and regulatory bodies’ challenges in curbing illicit financial flows. Despite the advent of sophisticated digital platforms, the allure of cash, with its anonymity and widespread acceptance, continues to sway among illicit actors.

The report also highlights the primary drivers of money laundering, pinpointing fraud, particularly through investment schemes and healthcare fraud, as the leading cause. The emergence of new fraud types, leveraging technology such as telemedicine and virtual asset investment scams, has been noted as a growing trend this year, signaling a shift in how illicit actors exploit technological advancements for financial gain.

While cash remains king in money laundering, the Treasury Department has not downplayed the rising threat digital assets pose. The 2024 National Terrorist Financing Risk Assessment points out an increased use of virtual assets by groups like ISIS and Hamas for funding purposes. This shift has caught the attention of lawmakers, prompting discussions on how to effectively regulate the use of cryptocurrencies in financing illegal activities without infringing on privacy rights or the inherent transparency of blockchain technology.

A notable event in this context was the House Financial Services Committee’s hearing in November, which delved into the implications of cryptocurrency in illicit finance. Testimonies from industry experts, including Jonathan Levin of Chainalysis and former federal prosecutor Jane Khodarkovsky, emphasized the need for a balanced approach that safeguards national security interests and the privacy concerns of legitimate users.

Looking ahead: Strategies for combating illicit finance

The Treasury Department’s commitment to addressing these challenges is evident in its forthcoming annual strategy for combating illicit finance. This strategy is expected to include comprehensive recommendations for tackling the issues highlighted in the 2024 assessments, reflecting a proactive stance towards evolving financial threats.

Moreover, the bipartisan interest from Congress, as demonstrated by the letter to President Joe Biden and Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen, underscores the political will to understand and mitigate the risks associated with financing operations by entities like Hamas through cryptocurrencies. This collective effort signifies a crucial step towards adapting regulatory frameworks to the complexities of modern finance, balancing the need for security with the preservation of innovation and privacy.

While the landscape of illicit finance is undoubtedly evolving with technological advancements, the US Treasury Department’s latest assessments remind us that traditional money laundering methods remain predominant. The challenge for policymakers and regulators lies in addressing the nuanced threats posed by digital assets, ensuring a comprehensive approach that safeguards the financial system against abuse while fostering technological progress and financial inclusion.

Disclaimer. The information provided is not trading advice. Cryptopolitan.com holds no liability for any investments made based on the information provided on this page. We strongly recommend independent research and/or consultation with a qualified professional before making any investment decision.

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