The US Department of Justice released “Cryptocurrency: An Enforcement Framework,” a publication produced by the Attorney General’s Cyber-Digital Task Force. The Framework provides a comprehensive overview of the emerging threats and enforcement challenges associated with the increasing prevalence and use of cryptocurrency; details the important relationships that the Department of Justice has built with regulatory and enforcement partners both within the United States government and around the world; and outlines the Department’s response strategies.
“Cryptocurrencies and distributed ledger technology present tremendous promise for the future, but it is critical that these important innovations follow the law. The Cryptocurrency Enforcement Framework provides the public with important information intended to help them understand and comply with their obligations under the legal regimes that govern these new and fast-developing technologies,” said Task Force member Brian Rabbitt, the acting Assistant Attorney General for the Criminal Division, in a statement. “While the Department of Justice and its partners are committed to supporting the advancement of legitimate cryptocurrency technologies and uses, we will not hesitate to enforce the laws that govern these technologies when necessary to protect the public.”
The Framework provides a detailed threat overview, cataloging the three categories into which most illicit uses of cryptocurrency typically fall: (1) financial transactions associated with the commission of crimes; (2) money laundering and the shielding of legitimate activity from tax, reporting, or other legal requirements; and (3) crimes, such as theft, directly implicating the cryptocurrency marketplace itself.
The report also explores the various legal and regulatory tools at the government’s disposal to confront the threats posed by cryptocurrency’s illicit uses, and highlights the strong and growing partnership between the Department of Justice and the Securities and Exchange Commission, the Commodity Futures Commission, and agencies within the Department of the Treasury, among others, to enforce federal law in the cryptocurrency space.
The Enforcement Framework also looks at the ongoing challenges the government faces in cryptocurrency enforcement—particularly with respect to business models (employed by certain cryptocurrency exchanges, platforms, kiosks, and casinos), and to activity (like “mixing” and “tumbling,” “chain hopping,” and certain instances of jurisdictional arbitrage) that may facilitate criminal activity.