Lawmakers led by House leaders say they want more information from President Joe Biden and Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen on Hamas's use of crypto as part of a probe that they say could inform future efforts.
House Majority Whip Tom Emmer, R-Minn., former temporary House Speaker Patrick McHenry, R-N.C., Rep. French Hill, R-Ark., and Rep. Ritchie Torres, D-N.Y. led 53 lawmakers in a letter sent to Biden and Yellen on Wednesday as part of an investigation on how crypto played a role in Hamas's financing. Just a handful of Democrats signed the letter including Rep. Vicente Gonzalez of Texas, Don Davis of North Carolina, Al Green of Texas, Wiley Nickel of North Carolina and Josh Gottheimer of New Jersey.
“It’s critical for Congress to understand the true extent of the use of digital assets for illicit purposes. In light of conflicting reports regarding Hamas’ fundraising efforts through digital assets, we are commencing a bipartisan fact-finding mission," McHenry said in a statement on Wednesday.
Crypto's use in terrorist financing has been at the forefront of discussions involving Hamas's fundraising efforts in Washington. Both Republicans and Democrats have recently penned letters to Biden and the Justice Department raising concerns about crypto's use in financing terrorism as well as asking federal prosecutors to "carefully evaluate the extent to which Binance and Tether are providing material support and resources to support terrorism."
Lawmakers said more context is needed around Hamas's operations, in their letter on Wednesday.
"Reports indicate that Hamas-linked digital wallets received about $41 million and Palestinian Islamic Jihad-linked digital wallets received about $93 million between August 2021 and June 2023," they said. "Yet, it remains unclear how much, if any, of the publicly identified digital assets are accessible to or remains in the possession of Hamas."
Non-crypto and crypto links
Lawmakers asked questions in their letter about how many digital asset wallets were linked to Hamas or other terrorist organizations and whether the U.S. seized any crypto linked to terrorist groups' wallets as well as anything non-crypto. They want a response by Nov. 29.
Hill, who leads the House Financial Services Committee's digital assets panel, will hold a hearing Wednesday afternoon to discuss crypto and illicit activity.
“Terrorism financing is unacceptable no matter what form it takes, whether that’s cash or crypto," Hill said in a statement about the letter. "Congress must better understand how groups like Hamas use digital assets to fund their operations and cut off all avenues for this illicit activity, but also recognize that bad actors are the problem—not crypto."
© 2023 The Block. All Rights Reserved. This article is provided for informational purposes only. It is not offered or intended to be used as legal, tax, investment, financial, or other advice.