U.S. Treasury Department Issues New Rules for Crypto Industry

October 16, 2021

The Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) of the U.S. Treasury Department has published new instructions for the crypto industry, affecting businesses and investors. Accordingly, individual investors are expected to follow guidelines in terms of who they can and cannot deal with, just like is already happening in traditional finance.

The guidelines reveal:

“The growing prevalence of virtual currency as a payment method… brings greater exposure to sanctions risks. Accordingly, the virtual currency industry, including technology companies, exchangers, administrators, miners, wallet providers, and users, plays an increasingly critical role in preventing sanctioned persons from exploiting virtual currencies to evade sanctions and undermine US foreign policy and national security interests.“

Anyone engaged in crypto-related activities is advised to be vigilant regarding their transactions, not to violate sanctions mandates.

“OFAC is issuing this guidance to assist the virtual currency industry in mitigating these risks. OFAC sanctions compliance obligations apply equally to transactions involving virtual currencies and those involving traditional fiat currencies.

Members of the virtual currency industry are responsible for ensuring that they do not engage, directly or indirectly, in transactions prohibited by OFAC sanctions, such as dealings with blocked persons or property, or engaging in prohibited trade- or investment-related transactions.”

The OFAC currently holds 35 different sanctions in effect. There are for example limitations on dealings with foreign governments, entire countries or geographic locations, and specific individuals. The OFAC guidelines state that the department has authority to impose “substantial” civil penalties to those not complying.

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Author: Peter Siu

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