According to Svetlana Martynova, who serves as the Countering Financing of Terrorism Coordinator at the United Nations(UN), terrorist organisations that have been cut off from the “formal financial system” have turned to cryptocurrencies like bitcoin and ethereum in order to finance their criminal activities.
These remarks were made by a UN official during a speech that was delivered at a “Special Meeting” that was held in New Delhi and Mumbai on October 28-29 and was organised by the UN’s Counter-Terrorism Committee (CTC). The meeting’s primary focus was on combating the use of “new and emerging technologies” for terrorist purposes.
Martynova stated that despite the fact that cash and “hawala” — a traditional method of transferring money in Arab countries and South Asia — have been the “predominant methods” of financing terrorism, “we know terrorists adapt to the evolution of conditions around them and as technologies evolve, they adapt as well,” she said.
New technologies offer a “unmatched potential to enhance human situations worldwide,” according to Antonio Guterres, the Secretary-General of the United Nations; nonetheless, the damage done by these technologies extends much beyond that of funding for terrorist organisations.
At the state level, certain steps are being done, the most notable of which being the sanctioning of the cryptocurrency mixer Tornado Cash by the United States Department of the Treasury because of concerns over money laundering and criminality.
In recent years, a number of blockchain-based forensic firms such as Chainalysis and Elliptic have emerged with the mission of tracking down cybercriminals and reporting their activities to government authorities. This has assisted in dispelling the myth that cryptocurrency is a safe haven for criminals.
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