The US economic crackdown on countries like Russia, Iran, North Korea, Syria and Venezuela as well as individuals whom the US believes are somewhat a threat to national security or are in a way aiding countries and other individuals who are working against the United States. To this end the US Department of the Treasury is now targeting digital-wallet addresses of people using cryptocurrencies.
The new sanctions came about on the 19th of March right after President Trump declared the Petro (a state-issued cryptocurrency by Venezuela) illegal.
In the documents that the Department of the US Treasury, the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) will soon include the digital wallet addresses of crypto-assets that belongs to someone targeted by the sactions. Moreover, the documents revealed that the process of identifying the digital wallets won’t take a lot of effort.
The document further said that anyone (pertaining to US citizens who operate in information technology) who has any information regarding cryptocurrency digital wallets that may be associated with or is owned by a foreign national should immediately report it to the OFAC or attempt to block it by themselves.
The agency will use all its tools to enforce the sanctions on the blocked individuals in order to fight crime, including money laundering through crypto-assets.
Why the Wallet?
Because cryptocurrencies are virtual assets, they’ll need a virtual wallet also and these digital addresses (where the cryptocurrencies end up) have a specific set of numbers and letters to identify it.
The Wall Street Journal found out from an ex-government adviser that these digital wallets would be the most logical thing to go after if the government wants to regulate cryptocurrencies. As soon as the blocked person discovers that his wallet has been identified by the agency, then he’ll most likely ditch it and create a new one. However, he might leave a digital footprint that could now be traced.
Imposing sanctions on these digital assets is very much like those restrictions applied in the shipping industry. Scott Flicker, an attorney from the Paul Hastings law firm, told the WSJ that the US Treasury will identify digital wallets, much like the Customs Bureau tag blacklisted ships, will uncover frauds and their perpetrators.
Another lawyer told the WSJ that the government might have a very huge obstacle to tackle before they could effectively impose sanctions on individuals of questionable morality with digital wallets. This is because the digital wallet’s address is only used once per transactions.
The plan to sanction cryptocurrency users’ digital wallets came after documents revealed by a whistleblower that the NSA (National Security Agency) may have spied on Bitcoin transactions.