58 US Lawmakers Probe Biden and Yellen on Hamas’ Crypto Operations

58 US Lawmakers Probe Biden and Yellen on Hamas' Crypto Operations

Fifty-eight U.S. lawmakers have probed President Joe Biden and Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen regarding Hamas’ digital asset operations, as well as whether the U.S. has had success in seizing illicit cryptocurrencies. Despite reports that terrorist groups have raised millions in crypto, the lawmakers stressed: “It remains unclear how much, if any, of the publicly identified digital assets are accessible to or remains in the possession of Hamas.”

Lawmakers Want Answers From Biden, Yellen

Fifty-eight U.S. lawmakers sent a bipartisan letter to President Joe Biden and Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen on Wednesday seeking answers regarding Hamas’ crypto operations, including the group’s “ability to utilize digital assets to finance its operations.” The fact-finding letter aims to help Congress gain a better understanding of Hamas’ use of cryptocurrencies.

Noting that Congress needs “greater context around Hamas’s operations,” the lawmakers, including U.S. Representatives Tom Emmer (R-MN), Patrick McHenry (R-NC), French Hill (R-AR), and Ritchie Torres (D-NY), wrote:

Congress must understand the size, scope, and duration of Hamas’s digital asset operations, as well as whether the United States has had success in seizing illicit digital assets.

The letter referenced various reports indicating that Hamas raised millions of dollars in cryptocurrency. “Yet, it remains unclear how much, if any, of the publicly identified digital assets are accessible to or remains in the possession of Hamas,” the letter states.

Blockchain analytics firm Elliptic recently clarified: “There is no evidence to support the assertion that Hamas has received significant volumes of crypto donations.” In fact, the firm stressed that its data on the matter has been misrepresented. Moreover, Wally Adeyemo, U.S. Deputy Secretary of the Treasury, said last month that the use of crypto is “not the vast majority of the ways that these groups are funded.”

The lawmakers requested written responses to seven questions from the White House and the Treasury no later than Nov. 29. The questions focus on the identification, valuation, and seizure of digital and non-digital assets linked to terrorist organizations. Additionally, the inquiry seeks information about the seizure of illicit digital assets, including the estimated timeline for forfeiture, the intended recipients of liquidated assets, and the legal authority for potential distribution to Israel to offset additional spending packages.

Several congressmen have urged the White House and the Treasury to use blockchain technology to assess Hamas’ crypto footprint. “Open, transparent blockchain technology should easily provide an open book of Hamas’s terror financing with digital assets, as compared to traditional, more opaque, methods of financing,” Majority Whip Emmer detailed, adding:

We request the White House and the Treasury to utilize the open blockchain ledger to assess the footprint of Hamas’s digital asset fundraising campaign.

“In doing this, Congress can better understand the United States’ available tools and capabilities to target bad actors on blockchain and support legitimate digital asset use and innovation,” the congressman from Minnesota said.

Rep. McHenry, Chairman of the House Financial Services Committee’s Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee, stressed: “It’s critical for Congress to understand the true extent of the use of digital assets for illicit purposes. In light of conflicting reports regarding Hamas’ fundraising efforts through digital assets, we are commencing a bipartisan fact-finding mission.” He added: “It’s important to note that digital assets are built on transparent and open distributed ledger technology—making it far easier to detect and track illicit activity. It’s essential that we hold bad actors in the digital asset ecosystem accountable in order for legitimate players to thrive.”

What do you think about the 58 U.S. lawmakers’ letter to President Joe Biden and Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen seeking information about Hamas’ crypto operations? Let us know in the comments section below.

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