The Treasury Department’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) might require financial institutions to implement new recordkeeping and reporting requirements regarding convertible virtual currency (CVC) mixing under a proposed rule.
On Thursday, FinCEN announced a notice of proposed rulemaking that would identify international CVC mixing as a class of transactions of primary money laundering concern. Doing so would mean domestic financial institutions and agencies must take “special measures” toward CVC mixing as directed by FinCEN under Section 311 of the Patriot Act.
The agency said the rule proposal is in line with the Treasury’s efforts to promote transparency for CVC mixing activities, including malicious use of the practice by Hamas, Palestinian Islamic Jihad, and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.
“CVC mixing offers a critical service that allows players in the ransomware ecosystem, rogue state actors, and other criminals to fund their unlawful activities and obfuscate the flow of ill-gotten gains,” said FinCEN Director Andrea Gacki in a press release. “This is FinCEN’s first-ever use of the Section 311 authority to target a class of transactions of primary money laundering concern, and, just as with our efforts in the traditional financial system, Treasury will work to identify and root out the illicit use and abuse of the CVC ecosystem.”
The rule would require covered financial institutions to report information about a transaction when they know, suspect, or have reason to suspect it involves CVC mixing within or involving jurisdictions outside the United States, according to FinCEN. The agency said the additional information would help all parties better understand the illicit finance risk posed by CVC mixing.
FinCEN noted it does not anticipate compliance with the proposed rule would pose a significant burden.
“FinCEN believes that the existing risk-based approach to AML/CFT (anti-money laundering/countering the financing of terrorism) compliance used by covered financial institutions already largely encompasses the information FinCEN is requesting,” the agency said in its proposal. “Despite this ready availability of information, covered financial institutions do not, and often need not, universally report that information to FinCEN at present. The proposed reporting requirement would address this reporting gap.”
The proposal will be subject to a 90-day comment period following publication in the Federal Register.