European Union Open to Crypto, Says Home Affairs Commissioner

Updated by Ryan James
In Brief
  • Europe is not against cryptocurrencies, according to Home Affairs Commissioner.
  • Regulation is important to minimize fraud, she says.
  • FTX CEO Sam Bankman-Fried argued that crypto exchanges have strengthened oversight processes.
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Regulation and cybercriminal activity in the crypto industry formed the dialogue around crypto at the Munich Security Conference 2022.

European Union Commissioner for Home Affairs said that the European Union is open to digital assets in the presence of fraud-preventing regulation.

The commissioner spoke at the Munich Security Conference on Fri, Feb. 19, 2022, attended by the CEO of FTX, Sam Bankman-Fried, and Christian Angermayer, cofounder of the Crypto Asset Group. The conference is an annual gathering in Munich, Bavaria, to address international security policy. Western plans to counter the amassing of Russian troops on the Ukraine border and the battle against climate change were two significant issues discussed during the conference. Cryptocurrency was also part of the discussions.

Johansson said, “I’m not uncomfortable with digital currencies, but we need to regulate them in a proper way” to prevent criminals and terrorists from taking advantage of the anonymity digital currencies provide. By her statement, Johansson clarifies that they disagree with China’s stance. Although some Swedish regulators are looking to ban proof-of-work mining, there is no imminent ban in Europe.

Crypto industry heavyweights weigh in

Bankman-Fried acceded that criminals can use cryptocurrencies and emphasized that digital currency exchanges have fortified oversight procedures.

Angermayer didn’t pull his punches. He believes that conventional banking institutions often leave billions of people out in the cold. They “often protect their own interests,” the CEO said. He opined that the unbanked billions in the world could be helped by the flurry of blockchain technologies embedded in cryptocurrencies.

Crypto crime fighting beefing up, says DAG

Deputy Attorney General Lisa O. Monaco also spoke at the conference. She said that the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) is investigating ransomware and the abuse of cryptocurrency. In 2021, the Ransomware and Digital Extortion Task Force was established. The FBI seized $2.3M of the ransom paid following the Colonial Pipeline attack. The FBI is also forming a team designated to operate in the cryptocurrency space. The group is called the Virtual Asset Exploitation Unit (VAXU). This FBI unit will gather crypto experts to use equipment, blockchain analysis, virtual asset seizure, and training to the FBI. This unit will work with the National Cryptocurrency Enforcement Team (NCET). NCET comprises prosecutors specializing in money laundering, computer crimes, forfeiture, and regulatory policy to pursue those who use crypto in criminal activities. There are dozens of prosecutors on the team, some of whom helped seize $3.6B from the Bitfinex hack.

Monaco also announced the launch of an International Virtual Currency Initiative to fight the misuse of digital currency. This effort will allow for more international law enforcement collaboration.

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