FinCEN Targets Crypto Mixers in Major Regulatory Move

The U.S. Department of the Treasury Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) has intensified its scrutiny of crypto mixing services, officially referred to as CVCs (Convertible Virtual Currency Mixing Services). These services, while used legitimately by privacy-focused users, have also been exploited by cybercriminals, prompting concerns from regulatory authorities.

Among the well-known mixers, Tornado Cash has garnered attention. The founders of Tornado Cash are currently facing legal action in a Manhattan court, potentially leading to a lengthy prison sentence. This case highlights the serious consequences awaiting those involved in illicit activities utilizing crypto mixing services.

FinCEN’s Ambitious Move

The U.S. Treasury’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) has escalated its efforts to combat the misuse of crypto mixers. FinCEN recently submitted a Notice of Proposed Rule Making (NPRM), proposing the designation of CVCs as a class of transactions of primary money laundering concern. This marks a historic milestone, as it is the first time Section 311 Authority is being applied against an entire class of transactions.

Andrea Gacki, Director of FinCEN, emphasized the critical need to address the misuse of CVC mixing services. Gacki stated, “CVC mixing offers a critical service that allows players in the ransomware ecosystem, rogue state actors, and other criminals to fund their unlawful activities and obfuscate the flow of ill-gotten gains.” FinCEN’s objective is to identify and eradicate the illicit use and abuse of the CVC ecosystem.

Implications of Section 311

Section 311, a relatively obscure provision of the Patriot Act, grants the U.S. Department of Treasury significant authority. It allows the Treasury to sever banking privileges from specific accounts, institutions, or classes of transactions deemed “primary money laundering concern.” Once applied, the targeted entity is effectively cut off from the global banking system, severely impacting its financial viability.

This regulatory move underscores the U.S. government’s commitment to combating financial crimes in the crypto space. As the crypto industry continues to evolve, regulatory actions such as these are expected to play a pivotal role in shaping its future landscape.