Incoming US treasury secretary says money laundering a 'very high priority', wants to 'curtail' cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin - AML Intelligence
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Incoming US treasury secretary says money laundering a ‘very high priority’, wants to ‘curtail’ cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin

US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen

By Dan Byrne for AMLi

JOE BIDEN’S pick for Secretary of the Treasury has affirmed her commitment to tackling financial crime and said that, under her leadership, the Treasury will treat AML as a “very high priority.” 

Janet Yellen – former chair of the US Federal Reserve [US Central Bank] – is expected to be the first woman to take the reins of US finances – one of the most important roles in the American cabinet.   

Quizzed at a senate confirmation hearing Tuesday, she warned that financial crime conducted through shell companies in the United States is a “very important problem”, and she embraced the recently passed Defence Act which allowed for great scrutiny at a federal level to root out financial crime.  

Among other things, the act calls for the establishment of a US beneficial ownership registry – something which Yellen welcomed.  

“We will try to get up and running as quickly as possible and devote ourselves to building that database so that we can address these issues, and we’ll certainly be looking to give this very high priority,” she said.  

Yellen also singled out cryptocurrencies as a “particular concern,” at the hearing, and flagged them as potential channels that allow for financing of terrorism. In her previous post as Federal Reserve chair, she stated she is “not a fan” of these privately-run enterprises.  

“I think many are used, at least in a transaction sense, for illicit financing and I think we really need to examine ways in which we can curtail their use and make sure that money laundering doesn’t occur through those channels,” she told the hearing.  

Janet Yellen is a native of New York City and a graduate of UC Berkeley, California.  

In nearly two decades of banking and finance at the top levels of US governance, she has been Federal Reserve Chair, Federal Reserve Board of Governors member, and chair of the council of economic advisers under President Bill Clinton.  

“She is going to be a Treasury Secretary that we have been wanting for a while,” said CCO and Co-Founder of financial advisory firm Elementaryb Denisse Rudich, at the FinCrime World Forum in December. 

“She has experience, and the ability to bring that experience and loyalty from her peers.” 

Although she may consider financial crime a clear and immediate threat to the United States, Yellen’s first days as Treasury Secretary will likely be occupied by the deepening financial crisis caused by COVID-19.  

She and her team are already eyeing up a further package of sweeping economic aid to help workers and families impacted by the pandemic, spurred by Joe Biden’s commitment to a $1.9 trillion election guarantee.  

With this as her initial “top priority”, watch this space to see when and how the threat of financial crime is tackled under her tenure. 

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