News: A bipartisan group of senators led by Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.) will unveil legislation today designed to significantly expand the federal government’s power to sanction firms that finance terror groups.
The bill, called the Terrorism Financing Prevention Act, would allow the U.S. government to sanction any firm facilitating transactions around “Foreign Terrorist Organizations.” The current framework is limited to the terms of a 2015 law that focused largely on Hezbollah.
The bill is sponsored by several other senators including Sens. Mike Rounds (R-S.D.), Jack Reed (D-R.I.) and Mitt Romney (R-Utah). That’s the same group behind another version of money laundering reform circulating in the Senate today that targets foreign crypto firms: Crypto-Asset National Security Enhancement and Enforcement Act, or CANSEE Act, which focuses largely on the role of “DeFi” platforms in money laundering.
The bill being introduced today would direct the Treasury Department to identify banks and crypto companies abroad that “knowingly” facilitate payments to designated terror groups beyond Hezbollah and sanction them.
The crypto sector should also take note of a provision — lifted from the CANSEE Act — that will also be included in the Terrorism Financing Prevention Act. The section would give the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network the authority to restrict accounts suspected of money laundering beyond U.S. bank accounts.
That means the federal government would in effect have an easier time restricting the flow of terror funding involving digital asset firms and decentralized finance companies.
It’s an interesting time for money laundering and terror financing reform in Congress. There are a lot of senior lawmakers pushing for reforms these days, and most of them are directed at crypto.
Case in point: This new bill comes just one day after the Senate Banking Committee hosted the CEOs of several systemically important banks to testify. Toward the end of that hearing, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) pressed the executives on whether they believed crypto needed stronger AML restrictions, to which they responded: “Absolutely.”
Warren is pushing a distinct reform package with Sen. Roger Marshall (R-Kan.) and other senators, but the point remains: There is some real momentum starting to build behind money laundering reform in Congress.
— Brendan Pedersen