Mnuchin Vows to Put Regulatory Roadblocks before Bitcoin

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US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin has vowed to enforce stringent regulations on the emerging Bitcoin industry so that it does not become another Swiss bank.

The former investment banked said in an interview with CNBC Squawk Box that bitcoin is a risk to existing financial systems. He compared the cryptocurrency with Swiss numbered bank accounts, stating that it is now facilitating billions of dollars worth of transactions for criminals. Excerpts:

“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. I want to be careful that anybody who’s using bitcoin — regardless of what the price is — is using it for proper purposes and not illicit purposes. And there are billions of dollars of transactions going on in bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies for illicit purposes.”

Is US Dollar Legitimate as Well?

Mnuchin’s take on bitcoin regulation closely followed a similar statement he made at this week’s beginning. He called bitcoin “a national security threat” in a White House press briefing on Monday, stating that the US would do everything to crackdown on criminals using it. The comments, in turn, followed US President Donald Trump’s tweet last week wherein he criticized bitcoin for having no intrinsic value.

Squawk Box Host Joe Kernen asked Mnuchin about his views on the illegal use of the US dollar, a sovereign currency. He doubled up by seeking clarification from Mnuchin that whether he also treated the greenback as an illegitimate currency for helping criminals launder money.

“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.”

Bitcoin Community Reacts

Many cryptocurrency enthusiasts think Mnuchin caught his tongue when asked to clarify the dollar’s role in financing illicit activities. Yan Pritzker, the author of InventingBitcoin.com, said the Treasury Secretary’s comments on the dollar were dishonest.

“[He] could just say “yes the USD has been used for crime and we want to enforce the law with any new currency just as we do with the USD”. Instead [he] went with obvious dishonesty, instantly losing what little credibility he had.”

At the same time, some respondents referred to demised drug kingpin Pablo Escobar, who made $18 billion every month in USD, not Bitcoin.

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