Biden's Treasury Secretary nominee calls cryptocurrencies a 'particular concern' for AML

Janet Yellen, a former leader at the Federal Reserve and Joe Biden’s pick for Treasury Secretary, is still suspicious of crypto as a threat for illicit financing. 

In a virtual hearing of the U.S. Senate Finance Committee held today, Yellen faced questions on combating the financing of terrorism, or CFT, from Democratic Senator Maggie Hassan from New Hampshire. Hassan asked Yellen how she would respond as Treasury Secretary to “emerging financial technology” used to fund criminal organizations and terrorists. The Democratic senator called cryptocurrencies a “growing concern” and asked Biden’s pick how she would handle CFT.

“We need to make sure that our methods for dealing with these matters — with terrorist financing — change along with changing technology,” said Yellen. She added:

“Cryptocurrencies are a particular concern. I think many are used at least in a transaction sense mainly for illicit financing and I think we really need to examine ways in which we can curtail their use and make sure that anti-money laundering doesn’t occur through those channels.”

Yellen, the former chair of the Federal Reserve under U.S. President Barack Obama, has been rather quiet on her views surrounding the crypto space since calling Bitcoin “anything but useful” in October 2018. She left her position as Fed chair in early 2018 following the 2017 bull run which drove Bitcoin to a then all-time high.

If approved by the Senate, Yellen would be the first woman to serve as Treasury Secretary, replacing Steve Mnuchin.

This story is developing and will be updated.

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