U.S. lawmakers today urged the Department of Justice to press ahead with an investigation into Binance and Tether to see if the crypto giants have helped facilitate funding to Hamas.
In a letter, Sen. Cynthia Lummis (R-WY) and Rep. French Hill (R-AR) asked on Thursday that the DOJ “reach a charging decision on Binance that reflects their level of culpability and expeditiously conclude your investigations into the ongoing illicit activities involving Tether.”
The letter comes after the Wall Street Journal reported that Hamas used Binance accounts and the Tether stablecoin to finance its attack on Israel earlier this month. Blockchain data firm Elliptic has since said that the WSJ’s reporting was inaccurate.
But Sen. Lummis and Rep. Hill said in their letter that while the funding in the article “is likely not accurate,” the DOJ should “hold bad actors accountable if they are shown to facilitate illicit activity.”
When it comes to illicit finance, crypto is not the enemy - bad actors are.
I sent a letter asking DOJ to finish its investigation and consider criminal charges against Binance and Tether after reports they served as intermediaries for Hamas and engaged in illicit activities. pic.twitter.com/M3KGNFkpWc
— Senator Cynthia Lummis (@SenLummis) October 26, 2023
“We urge the Department of Justice to carefully evaluate the extent to which Binance and Tether are providing material support and resources to support terrorism through violations of applicable sanctions laws and the Bank Secrecy Act,” the Thursday letter read.
“To that end, we strongly support swift action by the Department of Justice against Binance and Tether to choke off sources of funding to the terrorists currently targeting Israel.”
The DOJ has ongoing investigations into both Tether and Binance, according to WSJ and Bloomberg reports, which both cited unnamed sources.
Sen. Lummis is usually outspoken about the digital asset industry—but is not anti-crypto: She is known as the “Bitcoin Senator” for her cryptocurrency advocacy on Capitol Hill and has pushed for crypto regulation.
Hamas has long collected donations in the form of cryptocurrencies like Dogecoin and Bitcoin, according to experts.
But after a letter from bipartisan lawmakers last week demanded answers regarding the role cryptocurrency plays in financing terrorism, analysts pointed out that assertions crypto plays a large role in the Israel-Palestine crisis aren’t entirely accurate.
Edited by Stacy Elliott.