Pressure continues to mount against cryptocurrencies. In an interview with the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, a leading official of the United Nations, Neil Walsh, pushed anti-crypto rhetoric, alleging that these digital assets can be used in criminal activity.
Crypto is “Another Layer to Crime Nightmare”
In the interview, Walsh, chief of the Cybercrime and Anti-Money-Laundering branch of the UN’s Office on Drugs and Crime, asserted that cryptocurrencies are “another layer” to the “nightmare” that is criminal activity.
But it’s not just any old layer. According to the high-level official, due to the pseudonymous, global, uncensorable, and digital nature of most cryptocurrencies — everything from Bitcoin and Ethereum to Monero and Litecoin — crime is only made vastly easier.
Walsh specifically looks to child exploitation networks, which he opines benefit from digital asset technology. He brought up one case where digital content in which a child was abused could be accessed with a fee paid in cryptocurrency. Walsh also claimed that the fight against cybercriminals, nuclear weapon proliferation, terrorist financing, and money laundering is being hampered by the propagation of cryptocurrencies.
He thus asserted that this industry needs to be addressed with a multi-faceted approach that needs the “whole nine yards” of brains — “technologists, policymakers, philosophers, and so on.”
While Walsh was hesitant to mention potential solutions, he made sure to mention that cryptocurrency trading platforms should be regulated. He said by ensuring these platforms know who you are when you want to change Bitcoin to an altcoin, fiat to an altcoin, or what have you, the world’s “most vulnerable” individuals are better protected.
Anti-Crypto Rhetoric Goes Mainstream
Walsh’s comments are very similar to those made by members of the Trump administration, most of which have taken to media over recent weeks to lambast cryptocurrencies.
Just last week, we reported that Mike Pompeo, the incumbent Secretary of State, believes that cryptocurrencies pose a security threat or “risk” to America and its allies, citing 9/11 to get his point across:
“We know this from 9/11 and terror activity that took place in the 15 years preceding that where we didn’t have good tracking, we didn’t have the capacity to understand money flows and who was moving money.”
Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin has made similar remarks. In interviews this year, he claimed that money laundering and other criminal activity is enabled by cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin, which he jokingly called the 21st-century iteration of a Swiss bank account.
And, of course, President Donald Trump famously issued a multi-part Twitter thread on the matter of cryptocurrencies in July, citing the specters of the sale of narcotics and money laundering.
Regulation On Its Way
It is important to point out that regulators are already coming for cryptocurrencies,
The U.S. recently joined its fellow G7 members, Australia, Singapore, amongst other nations to create a platform that will collect and share the personal information of those using cryptocurrencies. An excerpt from the Nikkei Asian Review article unveiling this venture reads:
“The goal is to prevent funds from being laundered, going to terrorist organizations or otherwise being put to illicit use.”
The Financial Action Task Force (FATF) — an intergovernmental organization to combat money laundering and terrorist financing — is also trying to convince the world’s exchanges to share customer data when transferring funds between firms. The guidance, which the FATF asserts should be implemented within 12 months.
On a more local level, the IRS has started to purge crypto tax-evaders, while the White House has warned of the use of cryptocurrency in narcotics trafficking.