White House to Fight Crypto Crime as Part of Broader Anti-Corruption Plan

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Short on specifics, the report is a general response to President Joe Biden's determination in June that corruption poses a threat to U.S. national security.

Key points

  • On Monday, the White House issued a five-pillar plan to battle corruption in various forms including criminal use of cryptocurrencies.
  • The plan announces creation of an anti-crime, crypto strike team under the Department of Justice called the National Cryptocurrency Enforcement Team.

The Biden administration took a first step Monday, issuing its five-pillar anti-graft plan toward addressing a national security issue cited by the president in June -- tackling corruption. The report titled "United States Strategy on Countering Corruption" finds that fighting jobbery is a critical imperative going forward. "As a fundamental threat to the rule of law, corruption hollows out institutions, corrodes public trust, and fuels popular cynicism toward effective, accountable governance," the report reads.

Five pillars of U.S. government's anti-corruption focus

According to the report, the government will organize its energies around five mutually supportive pillars of work, namely:

  1. Modernizing, coordinating, and resourcing U.S. government efforts to fight corruption
  2. Curbing illicit finance
  3. Holding corrupt actors accountable
  4. Preserving and strengthening the multilateral anti-corruption architecture
  5. Improving diplomatic engagement and leveraging foreign assistance resources to advance policy goals

Task force created to fight crypto crime

The criminal use of cryptocurrencies is part of the malfeasance mix that the government wants to address on its laundry list of anti-money-laundering activities. Specifically, under the report's third pillar, is Strategic Objective 3.1: Enhance enforcement efforts. That section outlines the creation of a crypto task force run by the Department of Justice (DOJ).

"Cryptocurrency and corruption: DOJ will utilize a newly established task force, the National Cryptocurrency Enforcement Team, to focus specifically on complex investigations and

prosecutions of criminal misuses of cryptocurrency, particularly crimes committed by virtual currency exchanges, mixing and tumbling services, and money laundering infrastructure actors."

The strategy also targets digital assets

The plan strives to take a holistic approach in its efforts to confront and correct corruption. It cites various types of actions it plans to target such as use of shell companies, real estate transactions, tax fraud, extortion, kleptocracy, and administrative corruption. It also called out digital asset usage in particular as an area of attention.

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"Advances in digital technology have dramatically improved the efficiency, convenience, and reach of digital alternatives to cash, and accelerated the usage of and commercial trading in digital assets across the world," the report said. "At the same time, digital assets have been used in support of a variety of illicit activities, including proliferation financing, ransomware attacks, human and narcotics trafficking, fraud, corruption, and sanctions evasion."

Ironically the report noted that lax regulatory guidance of digital assets -- which includes crypto -- was a key loophole of exploitation by criminals. "Across an ever-more connected and digital world, corrupt actors exploit oversight and regulatory weaknesses in jurisdictions around the world to divert and hide the proceeds of their acts."

It'll be interesting to see if our government takes its own advice to correct the "oversight and regulatory weaknesses" that currently exist specific to cryptocurrencies and digital assets in general. Especially since the only thing at stake is U.S. national security.

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