US Deputy Treasury Secretary Wally Adeyemo will warn cryptocurrency firms on Friday against allowing their platforms to be used to finance terrorist organizations, as questions about how Hamas may have used digital currency to fund its attack on Israel mount.
Mr Adeyemo will make it clear in a speech at London’s Royal United Services Institute, a foreign-policy think tank, that US officials are tracking the role crypto firms play in supporting terrorist groups, as lawmakers from both parties call for a more thorough investigation of digital funds.
The remark comes amid a widening effort by the Treasury Department to crack down on the international financial channels that allowed Hamas to fund the deadly massacre in Israel. Treasury last week imposed sanctions on 10 Hamas members, operatives and other entities tied to the group. Treasury officials are also in Qatar this week to seek to crack down on international financial support for terrorist groups.
The Wall Street Journal, citing the crypto research firm Elliptic, reported that Hamas, Palestinian Islamic Jihad and Hezbollah raised $93 million in crypto before the attack.
Although some analysts have said that figure is overstated, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) cited it in a letter, signed by more than 100 members of Congress, calling for stricter regulations on crypto trading.
Mr Adeyemo will also say, according to his prepared remarks: “Our expectation is that financial institutions and digital asset companies and others in the virtual currency ecosystem will take steps to prevent terrorists from being able to access resources. If they do not act to prevent illicit financial flows, the United States and our partners will.”
Hamas’s crypto fundraising had surged in May 2021 during an outbreak of violence between militants and Israeli forces, but the group suspended donations to its bitcoin wallet in April 2023 over the privacy concerns of its donors, according to Elliptic.
The Treasury sanctions last week included financial penalties on a digital currency exchange based in Gaza, Buy Cash Money and Money Transfer Company, which provided bitcoin and other crypto services.