US says digital assets are covered by money laundering and disclosure laws

Jon Fingas
Associate Editor
AP/Andrew Harnik

US regulators issued a blunt warning to cryptocurrency holders who think they're not beholden to the usual rules. The Securities and Exchange Commission, the Commodity Futures Trading Commission and the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network have put out a joint statement to "remind" people that digital assets like crypto, tokens and other digital assets are subject to laws that bar money laundering and require reporting of suspicious activity. The Bank Secrecy Act's rules "apply very broadly," the officials said.

Just how someone registers with regulators depends on what they're doing. Commodity traders and financial institutions will have different expectations, for instance. However, it's really a question of who you talk to rather than talking to someone in the first place.

The move could help clear the air for investors and traders who've been looking for a firm government stance on the subject. Simultaneously, it's an explicit alert to those who might use cryptocurrencies to fund terrorism or other criminal operations. They could find themselves charged with financial crimes on top of any other offenses.