U.S. Treasury Secretary holds press conference on Libra and crypto

15 Jul, 2019 | Updated: 15 Jul, 2019
by David Robb
Breaking News
U.S. Treasury Secretary holds press conference on Libra and crypto

In the wake of President Trump's anti-Bitcoin tweets, as well as recent controversies surrounding Facebook's Libra project, the Secretary of the U.S. Treasury addressed the topic of crypto in a press conference. Stephen Mnuchin was attempting to clarify his department's stance on the crypto space, ahead of the Libra hearings on Capitol Hill.

Mnuchin's comments were primarily concerned with the AFL/CFT compliance of the crypto market. He claims that the market is currently "dominated by illicit activities" as well as manipulation. He explained that the Libra stablecoin was a major cause for concern for his department as it could potentially be used, like other cryptos, by terrorist groups as well as for cyber-crime, human trafficking and other offenses.

Some seemed to interpret what Mnuchin was saying as effectively implying that he was accepting of the crypto space, provided Calibra and other companies play by the rules. He clarified that he was not "comfortable with them launching a cryptocurrency...they and others have a lot of work to do". Mnuchin also claimed that, because of the Libra issue, many people were unaware of crypto companies that were compliant with financial regulations.

He reiterated the President's point about Bitcoin having no intrinsic value, and expressed concern about the instability and "speculative nature of Bitcoin". Although he also mentioned that the government welcomed "responsible innovation" in the financial sector, he claimed that the dominance of the U.S. Dollar was something that had to be maintained.

Following up on his claim to be concerned about "bad actors" taking advantage of crypto, Mnuchin was asked about white nationalist groups within the U.S., who had been making use of Bitcoin (BTC). The Treasury Secretary didn't address any groups specifically, but insisted that FinCEN currently has "multiple investigations going on" in this field. 

Observers in the crypto community were predictably sceptical towards Mnuchin's comments. Some criticized his inaccuracies and lack of clarity or depth regarding the topic, while others were hostile towards this establishment figure sharing his thoughts on a technology designed to completely disrupt the institutions he is part of.

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