US President Donald Trump has issued an executive order authorizing a new task force to develop guidance for crypto fraud investigations.
The executive order, Task Force on Market Integrity and Consumer Fraud, will include protection for consumers in the emerging crypto market alongside traditional crimes such as money-laundering and investment schemes.
Led by the Justice Department, the new task force will also include representatives from the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), the Federal Trade Commission and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. The directive cited “cyber fraud” and “digital currency fraud” as targets of the group’s work.
This move is believed to be the first sign that Washington is increasing its jurisdiction over digital currencies. The Justice Department, the SEC and the Commodity Futures Trading Commission are all using vast resources on fraud and scam investigations tied to Bitcoin and other tokens so it’s no surprise that Trump’s Government will increase its focus on the developing crypto space.
Earlier this year, the government indicated that it was working toward a "comprehensive" strategy around cryptocurrencies, with a focus on market fraud. In February, the US Department of Justice formed a cybersecurity task force that also includes cryptocurrencies as part of its mandate.
The US government’s view on Bitcoin is that is it not legal tender, FinCen, a bureau of the Treasury Department, said in 2013 that "virtual currency does not have legal tender status in any jurisdiction", however, the policy on exchanges depends on the state.
The SEC, which views digital currency as a security, said earlier this year it is looking to apply securities laws to everything from cryptocurrency exchanges to digital asset storage companies known as wallets.
Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin has been vocal about Bitcoin's ability to aid criminals, telling CNBC in Davos in January his main focus on cryptocurrencies is "to make sure that they're not used for illicit activities."