Modernizing the U.S. anti-money laundering (AML) laws is an important goal, particularly in light of the advances in technology that enable people and industries to engage in commerce in new and important ways. The Chamber recognizes that, like any industry and any currency, these technologies can be used for incredibly important purposes; but also, in some cases, to engage in unlawful activity.

To help support law enforcement efforts in this area, the Chamber co-founded the Blockchain Alliance, a resource for law enforcement to benefit from the blockchain industry for technical assistance in response to challenges faced during investigations; and a forum for open dialogue between law enforcement and the blockchain industry to make the blockchain more secure and to deter its use for unlawful purposes.

In May 2017, Senator Grassley and a number of co-sponsors introduced S. 1241, Combating Money Laundering, Terrorist Financing, and Counterfeiting Act of 2017. Among other things, Section 13 of the bill seeks to (1) amend the Bank Secrecy Act (BSA) to include “digital currency” and “any digital exchanger or tumbler of digital currency” within the definition of “financial institution” (namely, within the category of money orders and check cashers) within the BSA, 31 U.S.C. 5312(a); and (2) require the Department of Homeland Security and Customs and Border Protection to detail a strategy to interdict and detect digital currencies at border crossings and ports of entry to the United States, and lumps digital currencies in with prepaid access devices in this context.

The Chamber believes that this legislation and others like it: 1) are unnecessary; 2) are contrary to existing precedent established by the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN), the agency within the Department of Treasury vested with administration and enforcement of the BSA; 3) creates confusion in an already existing compliance and enforcement environment; and 4) are contrary to Congressional intent that the Department of Treasury implement regulations to give effect to the BSA.

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