Lummis: Crypto assets are not the enemy, bad actors are 

October 26, 2023

WASHINGTON, D.C.— Today, U.S. Senator Cynthia Lummis (R-WY) highlighted the need for federal investigators to crack down on bad actors in the crypto asset space after reports surfaced that showed Hamas used crypto assets to fund their war in Israel. 

Lummis, along with U.S. Representative French Hill (R-AR), Chair of the House Digital Assets Subcommittee, sent a letter to Attorney General Merrick Garland urging the Department of Justice to swiftly investigate Binance and Tether, platforms which were not only used to fund Hamas, but have a history of allowing illegal activity to occur.  

Senator Lummis also addressed this issue during a Senate Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs hearing, where she pushed for passage of a robust regulatory framework that would prevent bad actors from misusing crypto assets while also rewarding good stewards for their innovation and advancement in this space. 

“We’ve tried the status quo, where crypto asset intermediaries operate in an environment without clear paths to registration,” said Lummis. “As policy makers, we need to be making it more difficult to operate a crypto asset intermediary in the shadows offshore. But we also need to make it possible to operate a compliant exchange in the United States. By providing robust regulation, the United States can force bad actors out of the crypto asset space and ensure financial innovation can continue in our nation in a manner that does not allow illicit finance to occur.” 

Earlier this year, Lummis reintroduced the Lummis-Gillibrand Responsible Finanical Innovation Act which provides comprehensive regulation for the crypto asset industry. This bill places crypto assets within the regulatory perimeter, would combat the use of crypto assets in illicit finance and imposes new penalties for willfully violating money laundering laws.

In July, the U.S. Senate passed the 2024 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) which included an amendment, authored by Lummis and Gillibrand, which would prevent the use of crypto assets in illicit finance. 

If this amendment or bill were signed into law today, Hamas would have been prevented from using U.S. crypto exchanges for financing terrorism. 

A copy of the letter can be found here and Senator Lummis’ full remarks can be viewed here