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Global Regulators to Maintain AML Pressure on the Cryptocurrency Industry

On February 23, the Financial Action Task Force (“FATF”) signaled that the inter-governmental body “will step up its efforts in monitoring the use of cryptocurrencies in money laundering.”  While the 37-member international body remains without an official policy for implementation, the pronouncement nonetheless demonstrates the heightened Anti-Money Laundering (“AML”) concern from regulators across the globe concerning illicit uses of cryptocurrency.

Notably, the FATF’s pronouncement comes on the heels of recent enforcement-related measures taken in various countries.  As we previously have blogged, the European Parliament and its executive arm, the European Council, recently agreed to an amendment to the Fourth Anti-Money Laundering Directive to include measures targeting exchange platforms for virtual currencies, such as Bitcoin, as well as prepaid cards.  More recently, France’s top financial markets regulator issued a statement that online trading platforms for cryptocurrency derivatives fall under the European Union’s central legislation regulating financial markets.  In the U.K., the Parliament’s Treasury Committee announced on February 22 that it has launched a probe to examine both the impact of cryptocurrencies on financial institutions and how best to police the new technology.  Meanwhile, South Korea’s ban on anonymous trading of cryptocurrencies—part of the country’s new policies which represent the first AML guidelines for cryptocurrencies among the nations of the FATF—took effect on January 30.

The United States is also part of this growing global focus on cryptocurrencies and related concerns involving AML and money laundering.  For example, during his recent remarks at the Financial Services Roundtable’s Spring Conference on February 26, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein announced that the Department of Justice is developing a “comprehensive strategy” to address the concern that cryptocurrencies may be used for money laundering.

Given regulators’ intense focus on the burgeoning industry, it is likely that cryptocurrencies will be a topic of discussion at the upcoming G20 summit in Buenos Aires, Argentina.  Notably, in a February 7 letter to Nicolas Dujovne, the current president of the G20 and Argentina’s Minister of Finance, the finance ministers and central bank governors of France and Germany requested that cryptocurrencies be placed on the agenda.  Moreover, during a recent event hosted by the Economic Club of Washington, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said the U.S. will work with G20 nations to ensure cryptocurrency accounts do not “become the Swiss-numbered bank accounts.”

Copyright © by Ballard Spahr LLP

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About this Author

Bradley Gershel, Ballard Spahr Law Firm, New York, Securities and White Collar Litigation Attorney
Associate

Mr. Gershel's practice focuses on white-collar criminal defense, internal and regulatory investigations, and complex civil litigation. He has represented corporate and individual clients in a wide range of matters at all phases of litigation, and practices in both state and federal court. Mr. Gershel also has an extensive pro bono practice, with a particular focus on representing individual clients in federal courts and agencies in immigration matters. He is a frequent contributor to Money Laundering Watch, Ballard Spahr's blog focused exclusively on money...

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Marjoree Peerce Litigator  Criminal Defense Ballard Law FIrm
Partner

Marjorie J. Peerce is a litigator, with a practice focus on white collar criminal defense, regulatory matters, and complex civil litigation. In her more than 30 years of practice, she has handled matters across the criminal and regulatory spectrum. She is Co-Managing Partner of the firm's New York Office.

Ms. Peerce appears in New York state and federal courts, as well as in federal districts around the country. She has handled criminal and regulatory investigations concerning, for example, violations of the Internal Revenue Code, securities fraud (including Bitcoins), the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA), the Bank Secrecy Act, government contract procurement and subsidy fraud, mail fraud, bribery, accounting fraud, immigration fraud, health care fraud, environmental matters, commodities fraud, computer fraud and hacking, and criminal customs investigations. Ms. Peerce has handled a significant number of matters with the SEC, as well as with FINRA and the CFTC. She has handled numerous matters with the New York Attorney General in a variety of areas. She also regularly represents individuals in myriad matters in the Criminal and Supreme Courts in New York City.

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