United States Attorney General Eric Holder has warned of potential criminal attraction to bitcoin and other virtual currencies, according to The Wall Street Journal (paywall).
“More than ever before, the department’s law-enforcement work today must contend with new and emerging technology, including virtual currencies such as bitcoin,” Holder was quoted as saying to the House Judiciary Committee at a hearing on Tuesday. “Virtual currencies can pose challenges for law enforcement given the appeal they have among those seeking to conceal illegal activity.”
At the center of this “illegal activity” is the ever-present risk of money laundering.
Mr. Holder reportedly noted that federal prosecutors are working hand-in-hand with regulators here in the United States to better understand virtual currency and the technology behind it.
“Those who favor virtual currencies solely for their ability to help mask drug trafficking or other illicit conduct should think twice,” he warned.
In effort to prevent the facilitating of money laundering (and other illicit activity), many companies that work with virtual currency (such as exchanges or brokerages) have already deployed AML/KYC (anti-money laundering/know-your-customer) initiatives.
“The department is committed to innovating alongside this new technology in order to ensure our investigations are not impeded by any improvement in criminals’ ability to move funds anonymously,” Holder said.