In a recent development, US lawmakers have urged the US Department of Justice (DOJ) to initiate a criminal investigation into cryptocurrency exchange Binance (BNB) and stablecoin issuer Tether (USDT).  The lawmakers, led by Senator Cynthia Lummis, reference a controversial Wall Street Journal (WSJ) report that alleges Hamas and its affiliate raised significant funds through cryptocurrencies.  Binance And Tether Face Calls For Criminal Charges In a joint letter signed by Senator Lummis and Representative French Hill, the lawmakers express deep concern over reports indicating that “unregulated crypto intermediaries” outside the United States have allegedly facilitated illicit financial activities, including financing terrorism, such as Hamas’s attacks on Israel. Lummis and Hill urged the DOJ to promptly reach a charging decision regarding Binance, considering the extent of its involvement, and to conclude the ongoing investigation into Tether’s alleged illicit activities. Related Reading: FTX Ramps Up Restitution Efforts, Subpoenas AI Firm CAIS Over $6.5M Investment The lawmakers refer to the WSJ report of October 10, 2023, which disclosed that Hamas, Palestinian Islamic Jihad, and Hezbollah had received cryptocurrency funding since August 2021. They stress the DOJ’s need to hold any entities facilitating illicit activities accountable. The letter further reads:  We believe that it’s imperative that the Department of Justice hold bad actors accountable if they are shown to facilitate illicit activity. Binance, notably, is an unregulated crypto asset exchange based in the Seychelles and Cayman Islands. Binance has historically been linked to illicit activity and is purportedly the subject of a current Department of Justice investigation. On the other hand, Tether faced a fine by the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) in 2021 for issues related to backing its stablecoin USDT.  The lawmakers urged the DOJ to thoroughly assess whether Binance and Tether have provided material support and resources for terrorism by violating applicable sanctions laws and the Bank Secrecy Act. Lummis and Hill emphasize the importance of swift action to cut off funding sources for terrorists targeting Israel. Tether Counters Allegations In response to Senator Lummis and Rep. Hill’s claims, Tether issued a statement addressing the “misinformation” surrounding the potential misuse of cryptocurrencies.  Tether references independent investigations by Chainalysis and Elliptic, which found significant errors and faulty attribution techniques in reports, including the WSJ’s article.  Tether emphasizes its commitment to regulatory compliance, due diligence, and global collaboration with law enforcement agencies. They highlight their track record of freezing assets tied to illicit activities and assert no evidence of sanctions law or Bank Secrecy Act violations. Related Reading: Bitcoin Price Surge: Matrixport Forecasts $125,000 Price Target By December 2024 Tether further notes the inherent transparency of blockchain technology and the proactive measures taken by virtual asset service providers to monitor and report potentially illicit activities.  They reaffirm their dedication to transparency, compliance, and collaboration with authorities, inviting constructive dialogue and cooperation. As the call for a DOJ investigation unfolds, the cryptocurrency community awaits further developments and the potential impact on Binance and Tether’s operations. As of this writing, BNB is trading at $221, representing a decrease of 0.9% within the last 24 hours. However, it is worth noting that the token has experienced significant gains over the past seven and thirty days, amounting to 5.3% and 4.9%, respectively. Featured image from Shutterstock, chart from TradingView.com 
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