The US Department of Treasury’s Deputy Secretary, Wally Adeyemo, stated that the department would likely be implementing harsher sanctions against corporations engaging in illegal ransomware payments.
Adeyemo said the US government will certainly use sanctions when criminals endanger national security interests, speaking at an online event hosted by the Center for a New American Security with former Treasury Secretary Jack Lew and Ambassador Paula Dobriansky. As potential targets, he cited “crypto exchanges or mixers that are fundamentally in the business of assisting crooks.”
“We believe that the vast majority of digital assets are used for legitimate purposes, but we intend to use our capabilities to go after those who are primarily in the business of promoting criminal businesses,” Adeyemo added. “We also have to accept that the growth of digital assets is ultimately a challenge that we must confront when it comes to our punishment regimes.”
Any investigations into illegal crypto sanctions, according to Adeyemo, will involve cooperation with the FBI, the intelligence community, and other agencies.
His remarks follow a report released on Oct. 18 that stated that the department needed to do more to enhance its infrastructure and rules in relation to digital assets, as they were obstructing the enforcement of sanctions while balancing funding from legitimate humanitarian organizations.
The Treasury Department should modernize to incorporate the “necessary skills, technology, and employees” to deal with digital assets, according to the report.
Sanctions have been used by the government department as part of the US’s efforts to combat ransomware assaults that endanger the country’s infrastructure, such as the attack on the Colonial Pipeline system in May by Russia-based DarkSide hackers.
Last month, the department issued sanctions against the Czech Republic and Suex OTC, a Russian company, for allegedly letting hackers to access cryptocurrencies given as ransomware payments.