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US Congress Demands Notification From State Department on Crypto Payments

  • The US Congress is concerned that sanctioned countries such as Russia and Belarus could use crypto to evade US ban.
  • Both Russia and Ukraine have relied on cryptocurrency amidst their ongoing war.
  • More than 5.5 million people, or 12.7 percent of Ukraine’s total population, have reportedly owned cryptocurrencies since the war began.

Cryptocurrency has played a huge role as a vehicle supplying financial aid to Ukraine amidst its war with Russia. However, a new bill demanding notification of the United States Congress before payments of United States Department of State rewards using cryptocurrencies has emerged. The bill cites concerns that crypto payments could be used to evade sanctions.

The United States recently sanctioned Russia and Belarus for their roles in the war against Ukraine. However, US authorities are concerned that both countries could be using crypto payments to avoid sanctions.

The new bill states that the Secretary of States will notify the congressional committee 15 days before making any payment in cryptocurrency. The payment referred to in the bill H. R. 7338 is the Rewards for Justice Program, which is a counterterrorism rewards program managed by the Secretary of State, and offers rewards for security-based information.

The bill amendment requires the Secretary of State to provide congressional committees with reports outlining the rationale for the State Department’s intention to pay rewards in cryptocurrencies. In addition, the federal department must explain why cryptocurrency payments, as opposed to rewards like cash or other incentives, would motivate whistleblowers to divulge information. If passed into law, the bill will obligate the State Department to disclose a list of all previous cryptocurrency payments.

Highlighting the importance of cryptocurencies, Congress wrote that cryptocurrencies have “been used as an effective cross-border payment tool to send millions to the Ukrainian government, Ukrainian army, and Ukrainian refugees with limited access to financial services.”

The crypto world has rallied behind Ukraine in its war with Russia and has provided funds which the country has used in its defence. According to Ukraine’s vice Prime Minister and Minister of Digital Transformation, MyKhailo Federov, the country has received about $54 million in cryptocurrencies and has used it to purchase weapons, medicine, and food for its citizens.

Federov detailedly explained how Ukraine has spent the funds received from well-wishers around the world, saying,

Our commitment to transparency and accountability allows people who donated crypto to see exactly how their donations have been distributed. In order to prevent the occupants from tracking efforts, we have decided not to reveal some sensitive information until we have won the war.

The US on its part has increased its efforts in rolling out a comprehensive regulation for the crypto industry. Last week, the White House released its first ever fact-sheet detailing suggestions on crypto policies.

While the report did not include any clear policy, it mirrors the US’s intentions of becoming a global crypto hub.

Lawrence Woriji Verified

Lawrence has covered some exciting stories in his career as a journalist, he finds blockchain-related stories very intriguing. He believes Web3 will change the world and wants everyone to be a part of it.

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