US lawmakers have launched an investigation, seeking to discover if cryptocurrencies are used to fund extremists who invaded the Capitol, some few weeks back.
The Subcommittee on National Security, International Development, and Monetary Policy plans to hold a hearing titled “Dollars Against Democracy: Domestic Terrorist Financing in the Aftermath of Insurrection.”
Ahead of the hearing, a committee memorandum read: “as scrutiny by traditional banks and payment platforms increases, extremists are turning to solicitations of cryptocurrencies.”
Amongst other avenues, the committee is suspecting cryptocurrencies as a potential avenue for criminal activity financing.
The committee also believes that as traditional financial institutions are concluding their investigation on suspicious activities as it relates to the Wednesday, January 6 attack, in the future, insurrectionists are likely to turn to non-traditional methods to finance their activities.
Capitol Rioters and Bitcoin Funding
On Wednesday, January 6, 2021, former President Donald Trump’s supporters forced security officials to order lawmakers to shelter in place and halt debate in both the House and Senate, as they swarmed the Capitol building. At the time of the invasion, Congress members were meeting to confirm Joe Biden’s electoral college victory.
The two case studies the lawmakers think may prove crypto was of good use for the extremists:
It would be recalled that on Tuesday, December 8, 2020, an extremist of French nationality who committed suicide, transferred bitcoin valued at $522,000 at the time of transfer, to 22 addresses with many of them belonging to known far-right activists and social media influencers.
Out of the $522,000 transferred fund, over $250,000 of the money went to activist Nick Fuentes who was spotted at the Capitol during the insurrection. He joined other protesters at the Capitol and was seen celebrating the disruption of Congress, exercising the affirmation of Joe Biden’s victory in the last presidential elections.
Even though Fuentes denied entering the capitol building, rioters wearing merchandise for his political commentary show, America First, appeared in a series of videos and images that were taken inside the Capitol, an action that has questions that beg for answers for the lawmakers.
The second case study that may suggest that crypto was used to fund the extremists, was a live video of the Capitol protest on Dlive, an audio-visual streaming platform.
On Dlive, the streamer was said to have received approximately $222 in cryptocurrency tips. According to the memo, this platform has paid out “hundreds of thousands of dollars to extremists since its founding.”
The platform was purchased by BitTorrent, a peer-to-peer file sharing service which is owned by the Tron Foundation.
“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 memo read further.
Meanwhile, Janet Yellen, the US Treasury Secretary, has expressed her concerns regarding crypto transactions, saying bitcoin and other digital assets pose danger to investors and members of the public.
“To the extent, it is used, I fear it is often for illicit finance. It’s an extremely inefficient way of conducting transactions, and the amount of energy that’s consumed in processing those transactions is staggering.”