Not content with going around the world berating world leaders and causing havoc at home with his controversial decisions on immigration, U.S. President Donald Trump has now turned his attention to the cryptocurrency sector, exploring what his administration termed as “cyber fraud” and “digital currency fraud.” On Wednesday, the U.S. president signed an executive order for the establishment of a task force that will address “market integrity and consumer fraud.”
The executive order looks to place digital currencies in the same league as money laundering and fraudulent investment schemes—the more traditional crimes that usually target the elderlies, according to a Bloomberg report. The White House move demonstrates that although there have been occasional positive noises coming from financial watchdogs in the United States, these coins are increasingly coming onto their radar.
“Fraud committed by companies and their employees has a devastating impact on American citizens in the financial markets, the health care sector, and elsewhere,” Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein told reporters during a Washington press briefing.
Trump’s new task force will be headed by the Department of Justice, which will team up with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), and the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. These groups were ordered to focus more of their resources on scams which are usually linked to cryptocurrencies. In recent months, these U.S. regulatory bodies have issued crackdowns and strong warnings to investors about potential dangers associated with fraudulent cryptocurrency-related operations.
Former President Barack Obama also formed a broadly similar task force in 2008, following the financial crisis. However, Trump’s decision to create his own team allows his administration to direct its agenda further. Included in the U.S. president’s marching orders are for the group to provide guidance for investigations and recommend ways to improve cooperation among the different government agencies.
With regards to cryptocurrency, Attorney General Jeff Sessions previous said, “The FBI’s very concerned about the dark web. They did take down, I think, the two biggest, dark web sites. This last one, Alphabay, we took down recently. They had 240,000 sites where individuals were selling, for the most part, illegal substances or guns on that site, including Fentanyl. And, they use bitcoins and other untraceable financial capabilities, and it is a big problem.”
Since then Sarah Sanders, White House press secretary and another Trump mouthpiece, has clarified further, saying Bitcoin and the crypto ecosystem is being monitored.
“Bitcoin is something that is being monitored by our team—Homeland security is involved. I know it’s something that [Trump]’s keeping an eye on. And we’ll keep you posted when we have anything further on it,” she added.