The U.S. Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) has identified cryptocurrencies as one of the anti-money laundering and countering the financing of terrorism (AML/CFT) priorities.

In the agency’s first list of government-wide priorities published Wednesday, FinCen has highlighted eight priorities; corruption, cybercrime and relevant virtual currency considerations, terrorist financing, fraud, transnational criminal organization activity, drug trafficking, human trafficking and proliferation financing. 

Currently, the list of priorities is not connected to any policies, however the agency will issue regulations at a later date specifying guidelines on how financial institutions should incorporate these Priorities into their risk-based AML programs.

The priorities comes in the wake of several high-profile ransomware attacks, like the Colonial Pipeline hack, in which the attackers were paid out in bitcoin. FinCEN said: “Treasury is particularly concerned about cyber-enabled financial crime, ransomware attacks, and the misuse of virtual assets that exploits and undermines their innovative potential, including through laundering of illicit proceeds.”

FinCEN sees virtual currencies as “a substantial financial innovation,” but says they’re the “preferred form of payment” for a variety of illicit activities including ransomware, illicit drugs, and even “used by some of the highest priority threat actors to advance their illegal activities and nuclear weapons ambitions.” 

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