U.S. lawmakers call for charges against Binance – here’s why
- Lawmakers emphasized the importance of not painting all crypto intermediaries as suspects due to the actions of a few bad actors.
- Binance had frozen accounts linked to Hamas after receiving requests from Israeli law enforcement.
In a letter addressed to U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland, Wyoming Senator Cynthia Lummis and Arkansas Representative French Hill called on the U.S. Justice Department to consider charges against cryptocurrency exchange Binance [BNB] in light of the recent attack by the terrorist group Hamas on Israel.
The lawmakers urged the Justice Department to “reach a charging decision on Binance” and swiftly conclude investigations into alleged illicit activities related to the stablecoin Tether [USDT].
The letter follows the attack by Hamas against Israel on 7 October, with Lummis and Hill suggesting that illicit cryptocurrency transactions played a role in financing terrorism.
They called on the Department of Justice to assess whether Binance and Tether were providing material support and resources for terrorism through violations of applicable sanctions laws and the Bank Secrecy Act.
The lawmakers expressed their strong support for the department to take action against these entities to cut off funding sources for terrorists targeting Israel.
Senators seek swift action
While some lawmakers, including Senator Elizabeth Warren, have linked cryptocurrency payments to terrorist activities, Lummis and Hill emphasized the importance of not painting all crypto intermediaries as suspect due to the actions of a few bad actors.
They acknowledged that many crypto intermediaries aim to comply with U.S. sanctions and anti-money laundering laws, viewing these regulations as essential for unlocking the potential of cryptocurrencies and distributed ledger technology.
Binance had frozen accounts linked to Hamas after receiving requests from Israeli law enforcement following the terror attack.
However, Lummis and Hill deemed this action as inadequate, asserting that the exchange either allowed terrorist groups to engage in transactions or was “willfully blind” to their activities. They also made similar allegations against Tether, accusing the stablecoin issuer of knowingly facilitating violations of applicable sanctions laws.
On 25 October, blockchain analytics firm Elliptic released a statement refuting claims that Hamas had received significant cryptocurrency payments to fund its attacks on Israel.
The firm reported that, in contrast to the millions of dollars cited by other sources, one Hamas-linked campaign had raised only $21,000 since the attack.