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On December 6th, the United States Congress held its 2023 ‘Annual Oversight of Wall Street Firms’ hearing in Washington D.C. At it, senators heard from the biggest names in American banking: JPMorgan CEO Jamie Dimon, Citigroup CEO Jane Fraser, Bank of America CEO Brian Thomas Moynihan, Wells Fargo president Charles Scharf, BNY Mellon CEO Robin Vince and State Street CEO Ronald O’Hanley.
It soon turned into a blistering banking sector bashing session. The meeting’s chairman Senator Sherrod Brown described the banking sector in this way:
Always, always the working people pay the price – that’s why people hate Wall Street…. (After the failures of banks like SVB earlier this year) we were reminded how fragile our banking system can be. The reason for this hearing every year is to hold the biggest banks accountable to the public.”
However, another target emerged to come under harsh scrutiny in the hours-long session: cryptocurrencies, and Bitcoin in particular.
A common enemy
Senator Elizabeth Warren took to X to say on December 7th:
I don’t usually agree with the CEOs of multi-billion-dollar banks. But enforcing anti-money laundering rules against crypto to protect national security is common sense & critical. It’s time for Congress to act.”
The phrase brings to mind an old saying, “the enemy of my enemy is my friend” – ironic in light of the primary purpose of the hearing. Attached to Warren’s tweet was a video of her speaking during the hearing in which she spoke to and questioned the banking heads on cryptocurrencies:
Today’s terrorists have a new way to get around the Bank Secrecy Act: cryptocurrencies. Last year an estimated $20 billion in illicit crypto transactions funded every kind of dangerous criminal.”
In the video, CEO of JPMorgan Jamie Dimon also added that: “the only true use case for it is criminals, drug traffickers, anti-money laundering, tax avoidance… because it is somewhat anonymous and because you can move money instantaneously because it doesn’t go through all these systems.”
Dimon ended with the statement that if he was the government he’d close it down, to which Warren responded: “okay, because that’s what we’re going to talk about.”
At the hearing, at which no heads of cryptocurrency-affiliated businesses or operations were present, Warren said that she and 19 other senators are pushing for a bill to be passed by congress. Provisionally called the Digital Asset Anti-Money Laundering Act, she said that it would extend the anti-money laundering rules that banks follow to cryptocurrencies, who would then have to comply.
The draft bill has been criticised by supporters of cryptocurrencies since its introduction in 2022. Clyde Group executive John Rizzo, for example, called it a Trojan horse “designed to further a policy banning of crypto outright” in CoinDesk earlier this year.
The Digital Asset Anti-Money Laundering Act is available for view here.
The post United States edges closer to anti-crypto law as banks and senators side against cryptocurrencies appeared first on Invezz
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