US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin again turned his attention to bitcoin this week, warning that the Trump administration would pursue “very, very strong” enforcement of existing financial regulations to stop bad actors from using the cryptocurrency to bankroll criminal activities.
Treasury secretary: crypto could become a financial system risk
Mnuchin elaborated on the White House’s crypto stance during a Thursday morning interview with CNBC, warning that bitcoin could become a “risk to the financial system” if it becomes the equivalent of a Swiss bank account.
“We’re going to make sure that bitcoin doesn’t become the equivalent of Swiss-numbered bank accounts, which were obviously a risk to the financial system,” he said, echoing a claim he has made in the past.
Mnuchin further warned that criminals are eagerly adopting cryptocurrency for illicit purposes, to the tune of “billions of dollars of transactions.”
He then made the dubious assertion that cash isn’t used to launder money “all the time,” clapping back at a “Squawk Box” host who noted that physical US dollar banknotes remain the payment instrument of choice for many money launderers worldwide.
“I don’t think that’s accurate at all, that cash is laundered all the time,” Mnuchin replied. “We combat bad actors in the US dollar every day to protect the US financial system.”
Though not explicitly referenced, Mnuchin is likely also concerned that US geopolitical rivals, including China, Russia, and Iran have explored developing their own blockchain-based currencies to evade US economic pressures.