Treasury Secretary Steven T. Mnuchin said the administration is concerned about the misuse of digital and cryptocurrency and will force Facebook or other providers to behave like traditional financial institutions.
Mr. Mnuchin said that includes registering with the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network, an entity that analyzes transactions for use in money laundering or the financing of terrorism.
“This is a warning,” Mr. Mnuchin said. “If you want to use it for illicit activities, we’re going to put the full effort of the U.S. Treasury and regulators onto that.”
The secretary briefed White House reporters as Facebook gets ready to brief Capitol Hill lawmakers on its foray into cryptocurrency through its “Libra” project.
“The Treasury Department has expressed very serious concerns that Libra could be misused by money launderers and terrorist financiers,” Mr. Mnuchin said.
The secretary said the Treasury and its regulators have held meetings with Facebook and “expressed our concerns” about giving the project is blessing.
“They’ve got a lot of work to do to convince us to get to that place,” Mr. Mnuchin said.
Though it welcomes innovative ideas, Mr. Mnuchin explained, the department views cryptocurrency as “highly volatile and based on thin air.”
He cited speculation around Bitcoin and longstanding concerns that cryptocurrency feeds a host of nefarious activities.
The secretary said he discussed enforcement actions with foreign partners at the Group of 20 summit in Japan and will follow up at the upcoming G-7 finance ministers’ meeting.
“There’s enormous agreement on this,” Mr. Mnuchin said.
Mr. Mnunchin said the effort will not be an attempt to crack down on social media companies that Mr. Trump has accused of bias against conservatives.
“We’re not going to target any one entity,” Mr. Mnuchin said.
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