Senate Democrats want to know what steps the Treasury Department is taking to ensure that cryptocurrencies are not used to sidestep economic sanctions imposed on Russia.
"Given the need to ensure the efficacy and integrity of our sanctions program against Russia and other adversaries, we are seeking information on the steps Treasury is taking to enforce sanctions compliance by the cryptocurrency industry," Sens. Elizabeth Warren, Mark Warner, Sherrod Brown and Jack Reed wrote in a letter to the Secretary of Treasury Wednesday.
The inquiry pointed to an October 2021 report by the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control that argued the “growing prevalence of virtual currency as a payment method [...] brings greater exposure to sanctions risks.”
The letter also cited North Korea as an example of a country where cryptocurrencies are used for nefarious purposes, after a United Nations report last month found that about $400 million worth of stolen crypto was used to fund missile programs despite sanctions.
Concerns are mounting after a number of crypto exchanges, including Coinbase, Binance and Kraken, have resisted a blanket ban on Russian users. The senators have given the Treasury until March 23 to “provide information on how it intends to enforce OFAC’s sanctions compliance guidance for the cryptocurrency community and inhibit the use of cryptocurrency for sanctions evasion.”