Senator Diane Feinstein

Do You Have Anything to Declare? “Bitcoin!”

Crime, Investing, News, Regulation | June 19, 2017 By:

A bill that would require those entering the country to declare cryptocurrency holdings is wending its way through Congress.

Introduced by Senator Chuck Grassley of Iowa and California Senator Diane Feinstein, the Combating Money Laundering, Terrorist Financing and Counterfeiting Act of 2017 seeks to clarify certain aspects of cryptocurrency exchanges and the digital coinage’s status as a monetary instrument.

The bill actually started its journey through Congress in 2011. The various iterations now include a requirement to declare at US Customs any possession of bitcoin greater than $10,000. Proponents claim that it would combat terrorist money laundering. Under US law, assets can be seized if they are suspected to be connected to criminal activity.

The bill is now in the Senate Judiciary Committee for further consideration.

Andrew Hinkes, an attorney with Berger Singerman in Fort Lauderdale, Florida and a cryptocurrency expert, said the section defining a “prepaid access device” was particularly troublesome.

The definition “is exceptionally broad and would hypothetically implicate a traveler who crosses the border with the password for their online banking account, which seems an absurd application,” said Hinkes. “The intention is likely to capture the private key or key seed for a cryptocurrency account. But the extension of technology and the broad scope of the language used makes this definition troublingly vague.”