Social media, messenger companies building cryptocurrencies 'cannot turn a blind eye to illicit transactions': FinCEN official

Jamal El-Hindi, the deputy director of the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN), has called on companies looking to bridge the worlds of cryptocurrency, social media and user messaging to be vigilant about illegal transactions.

El-Hindi spoke during the SIFMA 20th Anti-Money Laundering (AML) and Financial Crimes Conference in New York on Thursday. According to prepared remarks published by the agency,  such companies "cannot turn a blind eye to illicit transactions that they might be fostering."

"Social media and messaging platforms and others now focusing on the establishment of cryptocurrencies cannot turn a blind eye to illicit transactions that they may be fostering," El-Hindi said, adding:

"As we’ve said on other occasions, to the extent that the financial sector chooses to move forward with the opportunities that some of these emerging systems present, we are not going to allow it to slide backward on the protections and appropriate transparency that we have collectively worked so hard to weave into the financial system."

"We will judge emerging financial institutions on whether and how they make their systems resilient to, and report on, money laundering, terrorist financing, sanctions evasion, human and narco-trafficking, and other illicit activity," he continued.

The statement is perhaps an app-centric reiteration of past statements from the agency, which serves as a top watchdog for anti-money laundering and terrorist financing. In October, FinCEN joined the SEC and the CFTC in a joint statement on the issue of digital assets.