Here’s Why Tether Is Getting Heat from U.S. over Russian Use

The US Treasury Department warns of malicious actors using cryptocurrencies to evade sanctions, urging stricter regulations within the industry.

Colourful Kremlin spaceship on Tether flying above a war zone in Ukraine.
Created by Kornelija Poderskytė from DailyCoin
  • The U.S. Treasury has raised concerns about malicious actors using cryptocurrencies to circumvent sanctions.
  • The department has acknowledged the growing sophistication of actors employing crypto for illicit activities.
  • To address this issue, the Treasury has proposed a three-pronged approach, including secondary sanctions.

The US Treasury Department is raising concerns about a growing trend: the potential for malicious actors, including nation-states like Russia, to leverage cryptocurrencies to circumvent sanctions imposed in response to the war in Ukraine.

US Treasury Calls for Regulation

Undersecretary of the Treasury Wally Adeyemo addressed the Senate Banking Committee, highlighting the growing trend of malicious actors utilizing cryptocurrencies to bypass traditional financial regulations. 

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He specifically pointed to Russia’s apparent interest in Tether (USDT), a stablecoin pegged to the U.S. dollar, as a tool to finance its war efforts without triggering sanctions. Adeyemo emphasized the need for stricter regulations within the cryptocurrency industry to combat this rising threat. 

This echoes past concerns regarding terrorist organizations like al-Qaeda and the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps using cryptocurrencies for illicit activities. The Treasury Department acknowledges the increasing sophistication of actors employing cryptocurrencies for nefarious purposes. 

Adeyemo pointed out that not only are terrorist groups exploiting crypto, but nation-states like North Korea, known for its cyberattacks, and Russia, facing severe sanctions, are also turning to digital assets.

Treasury Department Proposes Solutions

This ability to bypass traditional financial channels, often with a degree of anonymity, raises concerns about the effectiveness of current sanctions on Russia’s war efforts. The Treasury Department proposes a three-pronged approach to address this issue. 

  • Firstly, they advocate for the implementation of secondary sanctions that would penalize foreign cryptocurrency businesses found to be facilitating illicit activities by sanctioned entities. 
  • Secondly, Adeyemo called for expanded authority to regulate key players within the cryptocurrency industry, ensuring they have adequate KYC and AML procedures in place. 
  • Finally, he stressed the need to tackle the challenge posed by offshore cryptocurrency platforms, which often operate outside the reach of existing regulations.

The rise of ransomware attacks, where over a billion dollars were paid in cryptocurrency in a single year, further underscores the potential economic risks associated with the misuse of crypto. 

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The Treasury Department seeks collaboration with Congress to establish a more robust regulatory framework for the cryptocurrency industry. This collaboration aims to prevent malicious actors from exploiting the anonymity and ease of cross-border transactions inherent in cryptocurrencies.

On the Flipside

  • While anonymity is a concern, blockchain technology offers a permanent and public record of transactions. This can aid in tracking illicit activities.
  • Even with stricter regulations, determined nation-states or malicious actors may still find ways to exploit loopholes.

Why This Matters

This push for stricter regulations could significantly impact the cryptocurrency industry, potentially leading to increased compliance burdens for exchanges and stricter KYC and AML regulations. Still, these measures could also bolster cryptocurrency’s legitimacy and pave the way for wider adoption by mitigating its use for illicit activities.

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This article is for information purposes only and should not be considered trading or investment advice. Nothing herein shall be construed as financial, legal, or tax advice. Trading forex, cryptocurrencies, and CFDs pose a considerable risk of loss.

Author
Kyle Calvert

Kyle Calvert is a cryptocurrency news reporter for DailyCoin, specializing in Ripple, stablecoins, as well as price and market analysis news. Before his current role, Kyle worked as a student researcher in the cryptocurrency industry, gaining an understanding of how digital currencies work, their potential uses, and their impact on the economy and society. He completed his Masters and Honors degrees in Blockchain Technology within Esports and Business and Event management within Esports at Staffordshire University.