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Congressman Grills Treasury on Incorrect Reporting of Crypto Terror Financing

Brian Nelson was grilled during a House Financial Services Committee hearing providing oversight of the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) and the Office of Terrorism and Financial Intelligence, according to a press release from Representative Tom Emmer on Feb. 14.

Treasury Undersecretary Brian Nelson had to answer for reports that Hamas received $41 million and Palestinian Islamic Jihad received $93 million in cryptocurrency donations.

He admitted that the reported figures were inaccurate and inflated, and the actual amounts received by the groups were likely much smaller.

Mainstream Media Misinformation

Anti-crypto politicians often embellish the role of digital assets in illicit finance and seldom back up their claims with facts that prove otherwise.

Moreover, the Undersecretary confirmed that the dollar amounts published in the media were incorrect and that cryptocurrencies are not a popular tool used by terrorist organizations.

In October 2023, the big bank-backed Wall Street Journal reported that between August 2021 and June 2023, the two organizations received these sums in crypto.

“To be clear, Hamas is using crypto in relatively small amounts compared to what’s been widely reported, that’s correct?” Emmer questioned, to which Nelson responded, “That is our assessment, yup.”

Emmer pressed Nelson on whether the Treasury has a responsibility to correct the record and provide more accurate data, given the reported figures have informed some policymakers’ and business leaders’ perspectives on cryptocurrencies.

Nelson answered evasively, stating that there is “not a significant uptick that we perceive currently” before adding that “it is an area of opportunity.”

Emmer argued that the Treasury has more definitive data showing the limited use of cryptocurrencies by Hamas but has not released this to paint a more accurate picture and counter misinformation.

“I am talking about the misinformation that the Wall Street Journal has suggested, and that certain Senators are trying to base legislation on that would literally destroy innovation in this country,”

In November, the US Financial Services Committee wrote to President Joe Biden over concerns that Hamas was utilizing cryptocurrency to conduct illicit activities.

Emmer Backing Innovation

Tom Emmer has introduced a number of bills to foster innovation and quell the rising tide of anti-crypto sentiment from bank-backed politicians.

In March 2023, he introduced the Blockchain Regulatory Certainty Act protecting developers and software operators from being classed as financial institutions.

In September, he reintroduced the “CBDC Anti-Surveillance State Act” to protect Americans from a Federal Reserve-controlled and monitored central bank digital currency.

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