Fed’s ‘agreement’ with US companies to block payment processors
The US government has agreed to block payments processors from using an anti-counterfeiting measure to curb the flow of counterfeit money, in a move designed to stop illicitly sourced bitcoin transactions.
The United States Treasury Department and the Federal Reserve have announced a deal that will make it easier for US companies operating in China to prevent people from using digital currencies like bitcoin to buy goods and services.
The Federal Reserve has long sought to stem the flow to China of counterfeit goods, but the agreement to block Chinese-owned payment processors from being able to do so is the first step towards enforcing this policy.
The agreement also will allow banks to suspend the use of payment processors that facilitate transactions in bitcoin, which is the world’s most popular virtual currency.
The deal, which was announced Friday by Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and Fed Governor Jerome Powell, comes as the US government tries to curb what it sees as the illegal flow of money into the country by using a new type of tool known as the Global Financial Integrity Initiative (GFII).
The GFII is a counterparty protection measure that is designed to prevent the use by any financial institution of digital currencies to launder money, evade taxes or commit crimes.
Under the agreement announced Friday, if any of the above-mentioned companies are found to be using an exchange to facilitate illegal transactions in digital currencies, the payment processor will be blocked from accepting any payment in those digital currencies.
The Treasury Department also announced that it is opening a new investigation into alleged money laundering in China.
It will look at whether or not the alleged crimes have occurred in the United States, whether the alleged criminals have been prosecuted, and whether the United Kingdom is an appropriate jurisdiction to prosecute them.
China has long been a hub for the illicit trade of digital currency, with billions of dollars worth of bitcoins coming from the country through illicit networks, including the Chinese bitcoin exchange BTC China.
Since January, more than 5,000 Chinese citizens and companies have been arrested on suspicion of money laundering related to bitcoin and other digital currencies in connection with the global crackdown.