President Trump’s First Crypto Move? Executive Order on Fraud Crimes
Many have wondered what form President Trump’s first official move regarding crypto would take. The answer arrived today, July 11th, as Trump signed an executive order establishing the “Task Force on Market Integrity and Consumer Fraud.” The move comes as an effort to help bolster the prosecution of a wide variety of financial fraud crimes in the United States, including “digital currency fraud.”
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A Foundation for Future Responses
The executive order, characterized as a bid to “strengthen the efforts of the Department of Justice and Federal, State, local, and tribal agencies” to mitigate financial fraud in the United States, marks President Trump’s first executive action that explicitly deals with cryptocurrencies.
In the first three sections of the order, the governmental members of the Task Force on Market Integrity and Consumer Fraud are listed out. In the fourth section, the task force’s mission is explained, and it’s here where fraud within the realm of “digital currency” is cited as lying within the force’s purview:
“[…] provide guidance for the investigation and prosecution of cases involving fraud on the government, the financial markets, and consumers, including cyber-fraud and other fraud targeting the elderly, service members and veterans, and other members of the public; procurement and grant fraud; securities and commodities fraud, as well as other corporate fraud, with particular attention to fraud affecting the general public; digital currency fraud; money laundering, including the recovery of proceeds; health care fraud; tax fraud; and other financial crimes […]”
After this point, the executive order calls for “recommendations to the Attorney General on fraud enforcement initiatives” and recommendations to President Trump himself on “changes in rules, regulations, or policy, or recommendations to the Congress regarding legislative measures, to improve the effective investigation and prosecution of fraud and other financial crimes.”
No Turning Back Now
In essence, then, the task force described above will become “chief recommenders” on how the executive branch of the U.S. government should tackle financial fraud crimes in general, including frauds committed within the cryptoverse.
So the task force themselves don’t have any power to conduct crackdowns or the like, but they do have the power to nudge the powers-that-be toward the enforcement avenues they think are best.
What this means for America’s nook of the cryptoeconomy remains to be seen. In the very least, the U.S. government’s attention toward the more flagrant fraudulent enterprises in the crypto ecosystem is officially revved up.
The order’s tone is in line with other recent enforcement developments we’ve seen in the United States as of late. In the beginning of July 2018, news broke that the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) was spearheading a new international “J5” effort to tackle “both tax evasion and money laundering, and in part cryptocurrency’s use to effect these crimes.” And in April of this year, it also came to light that the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) was investigating cryptocurrency price manipulation practices.
Fraud and manipulation aren’t the only things on the table, either. The DOJ seized $20 million USD worth of crypto from darknet vendor takedowns at the end of June. It was described as the first undercover operation of its kind.
While You’ve Got Crypto on the Brain, Mr. President …
As President Trump continues to exercise his pardon power on individuals he casts as being judicially mistreated, particularly in cases of alleged federal government overreach, the #FreeRoss movement would most certainly like a word with him.
The U.S. Supreme Court just denied Silk Road operator Ross Ulbricht’s final appeal on June 28th, 2018. Alas, Ross’s supporters, who highlight the improprieties in his case, have only a presidential pardon left to hope for.
It may be a long shot, but Trump might just be bold enough to consider the #FreeRoss pitch. Don’t hold your breath in the meantime, though.
What’s your take? Does Trump’s executive order surprise you? Why or why not? Sound off in the comments below.
Images via Free Ross, Trends reader, GBP News