Congress worries crypto used to fund domestic terrorism, Capitol insurrection

U.S. Congress subcommittee says that bank reporting methods led to Capitol attack arrests but worries that Bitcoin might have helped fund the insurrection.

A U.S. Congress subcommittee is investigating if domestic extremists are turning to cryptocurrency as a source of funds for their activities.

On Feb. 25, the Subcommittee on National Security, International Development, and Monetary Policy will hold a hearing titled “Dollars Against Democracy: Domestic Terrorist Financing in the Aftermath of Insurrection.” A committee memorandum ahead of the hearing stated that “as scrutiny by traditional banks and payment platforms increases, extremists are turning to solicitations of cryptocurrencies.”

The memorandum lumps cryptocurrencies with other potential avenues for illicit activity financing including crowdfunding, charities, and social media platforms. Two main incidents are used to suggest crypto may have helped fund the Capitol insurrection.

Specifically, on Dec. 8 a French extremist who committed suicide sent 28.15 BTC (worth $522,000 at the time of transfer) to 22 addresses with many belonging to known far-right activists and internet personalities.

More than $250,000 of the BTC he sent went to activist Nick Fuentes who was identified as being at the Capitol during the insurrection, although he expressly denies entering the building.

The other source cited by the memorandum was a live video of the Capitol protest on the video streaming platform Dlive in which the streamer received approximately $222 in cryptocurrency tips. According to the document, the platform has paid out “hundreds of thousands of dollars to extremists since its founding.” The platform was purchased by peer-to-peer file sharing service BitTorrent, which is in turn owned by the Tron Foundation.

However the memo concedes the two incidents are circumstantial evidence and that “it is unknown whether the funds from these Bitcoin transfers or others were used in the planning and execution of the January 6th Trump rally or the Capitol insurrection that followed.”

The committee believes that as traditional finance ramps up the reporting of suspicious activity, future insurrectionists are likely to turn to non-traditional methods to finance their activities. It added that “some of the arrests related to the Jan. 6 attack,” were successful due to the reporting methods banks and other regulated financial institutes employ.

There is still significant push-back to the “cryptocurrency is a criminal’s haven” narrative.

Bitcoin influencer Pierre Rochard responded on Twitter to the memo saying “almost all domestic terrorism happened before Bitcoin was invented. Domestic terrorism is financed by USD.”

Cryptocurrency investor who goes by the title “The Crypto Monk” said that even Pokemon cards would be better for payment than Bitcoin due to the cryptocurrency’s ability to trace funds.

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Miami mayor says city employees should be able to take their salaries in Bitcoin

Miami wants to overtake Silicon Valley as the most Bitcoin-friendly place in the U.S.

Miami city employees could soon choose to get their salaries paid in Bitcoin rather than USD. In an interview with Forbes, Mayor Francis Suarez said tangible paths to expand Bitcoin’s adoption throughout the city included enabling city employee salaries to be paid in BTC.

Major figures in the cryptocurrency world have responded positively to the idea, with Twitter and Square CEO Jack Dorsey calling it “smart” on Twitter.

Germini co-founder Tyler Winklevoss stated that the mayor is “leading the way for governments and Bitcoin.”

Mayor Suarez told Forbes that due to the rise in crypto’s popularity among citizens, he wants to do everything he can to make Miami a Bitcoin-friendly city. Other proposals include allowing local fees and taxes to be paid in Bitcoin and certain other cryptocurrencies, as well as investing some of the city’s treasury into Bitcoin, following Microstrategy’s example.

Although he isn’t sure of specific amounts, Suarez explained that the treasury investment would be structured as a public-private partnership, with the private partners receiving some of the rewards for alleviating some of the risks.

He also revealed that he’s also considering financing his reelection campaign in Bitcoin. He isn’t the first to turn to Bitcoin to help fund political campaigns with Democrat Andrew Yang, California U.S. Rep. Eric Swalwell, Minnesota U.S. Rep. Tom Emmer, and Libertarian Lara Loomer among U.S. politicians who have already accepted cryptocurrencies in past campaigns.

The mayor believes Bitcoin will be the “biggest story for the next few years.”

Late last year the mayor called Bitcoin a “stable investment” during an “incredibly unstable year.” Last week, he uploaded Bitcoin’s whitepaper onto the government’s website saying:

“The City of Miami believes in Bitcoin and I’m working day and night to turn Miami into a hub for crypto innovation.”

The mayor told Forbes that he has reached out to other states and jurisdictions, including Caitlin Long in Wyoming and Florida CFO Jimmy Patronis to help drive Bitcoin-friendly changes in Florida’s legislature. These efforts are part of the city’s push to be the next major tech hub in the U.S. with plans to grow innovation and tech growth in the next few years.

Should these actions take effect, Miami’s 450,000 citizens may be encouraged to start transacting in Bitcoin on a regular basis, with the potential for this to spread to the rest of Florida’s 21.5 million residents. It would also make the city more attractive for blockchain-related tech companies and events.

Major crypto conference Bitcoin 2021 announced earlier today it was moving from Los Angeles to Miami in June this year.

Although Miami may be the first U.S. city to offer employees salaries in Bitcoin, other companies have also been exploring this. Last week, Cointelegraph reported that software development services provider Sequoia Holdings, based in Virginia, is offering employees the ability to sacrifice a portion of their salary to invest in either Bitcoin (BTC), Bitcoin Cash (BCH), or Ether (ETH).

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Chinese Mining Rig Manufacturer Microbt Announces Offshore ASIC Factory

Chinese Mining Rig Manufacturer Microbt Announces Offshore ASIC FactoryOn Friday, China-based bitcoin mining rig manufacturer Microbt announced plans to create an offshore facility that produces the company’s Whatsminer devices and parts for North America. The firm revealed the expansion news when it announced a recent partnership with the New York-based Foundry Digital LLC. Microbt’s Whatsminer mining rigs have become popular during the last […]

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