The 115th Congress issued a bill which claims to combat money launderers and terrorist financial benefactors. It states that its purpose is to “improve the prohibition on money laundering.” US Senator Diane Feinstein and Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Chuck Grassley initiated the bill Combating Money Laundering, Terrorist Financing, and Counterfeiting Act of 2017, whose purpose is to empower criminal law in the area of money laundering – an important source of funding for terrorists and organized criminal rings. This bill, if passed into law, would require any person possessing more than $10 000 in cryptocurrency to declare their holding when passing a US customs checkpoint. You must report how many bitcoins or any other crypto you own to the IRS, or face prison terms and $1000,000 fines.
“(a) In general.—No person shall knowingly conceal, falsify, or misrepresent, or attempt to conceal, falsify, or misrepresent, from or to a financial institution, a material fact concerning the ownership or control of an account or assets held in an account with a financial institution.”
“(b) Penalties.—A person convicted of an offense under subsection (a), or a conspiracy to commit such offense, shall be imprisoned for not more than 10 years, fined not more than $1,000,000, or both.
Sec. 10 urges for technical amendment to restore wiretap authority for counterfeiting and money laundering offences. I suppose I don’t need to explain this gross infringement on privacy: if you are suspected by US authority, this legislation allows them to wiretap everything you have: cellphone, email, bank accounts, etc.
Sec. 13 states that within 18 months of the enactment of this Act, the Secretary of Homeland Security shall submit a report “detailing a strategy to interdict and detect prepaid access devices, digital currencies, or other similar instruments, at border crossings and other ports of entry for the United States.” This means if you hold your cryptos in a ledger, TREZOR or a laptop and didn’t report it beforehand, US authorities have the rights to detain you at your airport of arrival.
Sec. 15 details a plan to obtain bank records from banks with US correspondent accounts. This means all foreign banks must maintain records of US citizens on US territory.
What does this mean for us crypto enthusiasts?
For a bill to become law, it must go through a process. If the bill passes by simple majority (218 of 435), the bill moves to the Senate. This is where S.1241 stands as of today. It will then be assigned to another committee within the Senate, where it shall be debated and voted on. If it passes by majority (51 out of 100), it shall then be worked on by members of the House and Senate. Finally the House and the Senate approve the bill. The Government Printing Office prints the revised bill in a process called enrolling. The President of the United States has 10 days to approve the bill.
You can see that there’s still quite a distance for S.1241 to go before it becomes law. Initiatives to vote against this bill have emerged on the internet. If you’re a US citizen and you want to fight against this bill, navigate to this webpage and find the senators of your state via the drop-down. Call them and let them know you are against the draconian measures this bill would introduce.