Brian Nelson, President Biden’s nominee to be the Treasury’s undersecretary for terrorism and financial intelligence, said yesterday that he would target crypto money laundering as a matter of priority. 

“If I am confirmed, I will prioritize implementing that piece of legislation, including new regulations around cryptocurrency,” Nelson told the Senate Banking Committee in a confirmation hearing. 

Previously, Nelson served as the deputy chief of staff of the Justice Department’s national security division. 


The US and crypto

Nelson’s comments are in line with wider U.S. government rhetoric regarding crypto. 

In June, Charles Rettig, commissioner of the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), said the United States needed explicit congressional authority to issue new regulations on cryptocurrencies. 

“The most recent market cap in that world—the crypto world—exceeded $2 trillion and more than 8,600 exchanges worldwide. And by design, most crypto, virtual currencies are designed to stay off the radar screen, so—we will be challenged,” Rettig said at the time. 

He added that the agency would need “additional tools” to better monitor the fast-growing industry. 

In the same month, the Department of Justice announced that it would give ransomware attacks the same priority as terrorism—a move that came amidst the Colonial Pipeline attack, where the company reportedly paid a multi-million-dollar ransom in Bitcoin


Elsewhere in the world, ties between cryptocurrency and terrorism financing reemerged when a senior Hamas official told the Wall Street Journal that the group has seen an increase in Bitcoin donations during the most recent conflict with Israel. 

“There was definitely a spike [in Bitcoin donations],” the Hamas official said, adding, “Some of the money gets used for military purposes to defend the basic rights of the Palestinians.”  

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