Terrorist financing charges: Binance and Tether in the crosshairs of Lummis and Hill

The war in the Middle East continues to make headlines around the world, including in the crypto ecosystem. In a letter sent to the Department of Justice on October 26, US Senator Cynthia Lummis and Representative French Hill advocate legal action against Binance and Tether for facilitating the financing of Hamas. Fervent supporters of crypto, the two lawmakers point out that when it comes to illicit financing, the enemy is not cryptocurrencies, but rather the malicious actors in the ecosystem.

Pro-crypto lawmakers wage war on Binance and Tether

Influential member of the senate banking committee, Cynthia Lummis is a staunch defender of the crypto ecosystem. The senator is notably the initiator of the cryptocurrency bill and is pushing for its adoption. The woman, who says she owns Bitcoin and considers crypto as the future of financial innovation, recently joined a group of associations calling a New York court to put an end to the relentless SEC versus Coinbase.

The representative French Hill is also a staunch defender of the crypto ecosystem. Chairman of the House Financial Services Subcommittee on Digital Assets, he regularly steps up the pressure for serious legislation of the crypto ecosystem.

But then, what do they blame the companies for?

Binance and Tether in turmoil in the USA

Binance is accused of allowing Hamas to open accounts on its platform. As proof, the exchange recently helped Israeli authorities to block accounts Binance linked to Hamas. While this collaboration is encouraging, it does not criminally exonerate the exchange. Binance does so only after it has knowingly allowed its platform to be used by terrorist organizations,” reads the letter.

For its part, Tether is accused of failing to carry out adequate checks on its customers, thus allowing its stablecoin USDT to finance terrorism. Tether also collaborated with the authorities, making it possible to block 32 addresses linked to the war in Israel and Ukraine. This does not exonerate the company, the two legislators insist, while calling for thorough investigations.

Cynthia Lummis and French Hill have therefore asked the ministry of justice to take legal action against both companies.

The problem is malicious actors, not crypto

Although both lawmakers castigate terrorist financing via crypto-assets, they don’t hold cryptocurrency responsible.

For Cynthia and French, cryptocurrency has the potential to stimulate responsible financial innovation. The fact that one or two industry players use crypto for illicit purposes does not make these assets harmful.

In fact, if you read the letter from the two legislators, you can see the difference between fighting the financing of terrorism and bashing the crypto ecosystem. The two legislators refer, for example, to the Wall Street Journal article reporting the millions of dollars in crypto used by Hamas. However, they point out that the level of funding revealed by WSJ is far above the true figures.

It has been established that Hamas-affiliated individuals have indeed used both companies to access crypto. The suspect accounts have certainly been frozen, according to Binance and Tether. However, this could carry legal consequences for both companies. The fact that this fight is being waged by pro-crypto personalities reduces Binance and Tether’s circle of supporters.