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seeking sanctions

Senate bill seeks sanctions on banks, crypto firms that facilitate Hamas financing

Intelligence Committee Chair Mark Warner said the bill would ensure the Treasury ‘has the tools necessary to enforce our sanctions against Hamas and other terror groups’

A representation of the Bitcoin cryptocurrency is being displayed in Brussels, Belgium, on December 6, 2023.

Jonathan Raa/NurPhoto via Getty Images

A representation of the Bitcoin cryptocurrency is being displayed in Brussels, Belgium, on December 6, 2023.

A bipartisan group of senior senators introduced a bill last Thursday that aims to crack down on money flowing to Hamas and other terrorist groups, taking aim both at traditional banks and cryptocurrency firms.

The legislation was introduced by Sens. Mark Warner (D-VA) and Jack Reed (D-RI), who chair the Intelligence and Armed Services committees, respectively, joined by Sens. Mike Rounds (R-SD) and Mitt Romney (R-UT). The legislation seeks to restrict international financing to Hamas and other designated foreign terrorist organizations and other foreign actors controlled by such groups.

The Terrorism Financing Prevention Act would place sanctions on foreign financial institutions and digital asset transaction facilitators (including crypto firms and crypto exchanges) that knowingly conduct transactions involving terrorist groups and their affiliates, barring financial institutions from correspondent bank accounts that allow them to do business in the U.S. and barring digital asset facilitators from transactions with U.S. people and entities.

The legislation also includes provisions from a previously introduced crypto-focused bill allowing the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network to restrict transactions with crypto firms that are involved in money laundering.

The bill authorizes additional funding for the Treasury Department to carry out these new responsibilities.

Warner said in a statement that the bill will ensure that the Treasury Department “has the tools necessary to enforce our sanctions against Hamas and other terror groups.”

Rounds said the bill involves “commonsense steps toward rooting out terrorism by sanctioning foreign financial institutions and foreign digital asset companies that assist them in committing these heinous acts,” adding, “cutting off funding for terrorist organizations at the source will save lives.”

Reed explained that the group is “forcing foreign financial institutions and foreign crypto firms to choose between doing business with terrorist organizations or maintaining access to the U.S. financial system.”

Romney highlighted the need to crack down on cryptocurrency’s role in financing Hamas, a subject that has received significant attention since Oct. 7 amid reports the group has amassed millions in crypto assets.

“The October 7 attacks on Israel perpetrated by Hamas have made it more urgent and necessary for the U.S. to counter the role that cryptocurrency plays in the financing of terrorism,” Romney said. “Our legislation would expand financial sanctions to cover all terrorist organizations — including Hamas — and it would equip the Treasury Department with additional resources to counter terrorism and address emerging threats involving digital assets.” 

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