09 May

Democratic lawmakers have proposed the US Blockchain Integrity Act to tighten regulations on cryptocurrency, specifically targeting cryptocurrency mixers often used for illegal financial activities. Led by Sean Casten and supported by fellow Democrats, the bill seeks to impose a two-year ban on cryptocurrency mixers.

Cryptocurrency mixers are pools that allow users to generate new addresses and withdraw funds without revealing the link between the depositor and withdrawal addresses. This anonymity poses challenges for law enforcement in tracking the origin and destination of funds, facilitating unlawful activities.

The proposed legislation aims to disrupt the flow of illegal funds and promote transparency by prohibiting financial institutions, cryptocurrency exchanges, and registered money service businesses from accepting funds processed through a mixer. Violators could face civil penalties of up to $100,000, intended as a deterrent against facilitating mixer-related transactions.

Additionally, the bill mandates the Treasury Department to compile a comprehensive report during the ban period, evaluating various aspects of mixer transactions, including their involvement in illicit finance, legitimate use cases, law enforcement capabilities, and regulatory approaches in other jurisdictions.

While Democrats view the initiative as necessary to combat illicit finance, the bill faces political challenges, particularly in the Republican-majority House, where its passage is uncertain. Republicans express concerns about stifling innovation and emphasize the need for balanced regulatory oversight.

US authorities have previously taken action against cryptocurrency mixers, such as targeting mixer service Tornado Cash and pursuing legal actions against mixer developers for money laundering and sanctions violations.

Lawmakers have also raised concerns about offshore-issued stablecoins like Tether, citing potential links to illicit finance. Stablecoins pegged to fiat currencies have gained popularity for facilitating transactions within the cryptocurrency ecosystem, prompting scrutiny over issuer transparency and regulatory oversight.

Recently, the Poloniex hacker laundered $3.4 million worth of Ethereum through the Tornado Cash mixer to conceal stolen funds. A report from Chainalysis indicates a significant increase in mixer usage, with illicit addresses accounting for 23% of funds sent to mixers in 2023, up from 12% in 2021. This rise is attributed to a doubling of the share of funds deemed illicit, driving the increased activity in mixers.

May 2024, Cryptoniteuae

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