U.S. Attorney General William P. Barr (pictured, right) today announced the release of a new cryptocurrency framework designed to police the industry at a time that alleged illegal actions are in the news with the prosecution of cryptocurrency exchange BitMEX.

“Cryptocurrency: An Enforcement Framework” was created by the Attorney General’s Cyber-Digital Task Force to provide a comprehensive overview of the emerging threats and enforcement challenges associated with the increasing prevalence and use of cryptocurrency. The framework also details relationships the Department of Justice has built with regulatory and enforcement partners along with the department’s response strategies.

Criminal and national security concerns are at the forefront of the framework with the document addressing how cryptocurrency plays a role in those threats. It also covers how the department will exert authority over foreign actors where transactions touch financial, data storage or other computer systems if they use cryptocurrency to undertake illegal activities.

Part two of the framework specifically explores legal and regulatory tools the government can use to combat crime that involves cryptocurrency. It also highlights the growing partnerships between the Department of Justice and various other bodies, including the Securities and Exchange Commission, the Commodity Futures Commission and the Department of the Treasury.

“While the Department of Justice and its partners are committed to supporting the advancement of legitimate cryptocurrency technologies and uses, we will not hesitate to enforce the laws that govern these technologies when necessary to protect the public,” said Brian C. Rabbitt, the acting assistant attorney general for the Criminal Division.

The announcement comes on the same day that Arthur Hayes, the chief executive officer of BitMEX, along with other members of the company’s leadership team stepped down following the charges filed against the cryptocurrency exchange by the CFTC.

“These changes to our executive leadership mean we can focus on our core business of offering superior trading opportunities for all our clients through the BitMEX platform, whilst maintaining the highest standards of corporate governance,” David Wong, the chairman of BitMEX owner the 100x Group said in a statement.

Although the U.S. government was explaining its efforts in tackling cryptocurrency crime, others still have full faith in the digital asset space and what it can achieve. Square Inc. announced Thursday that it had purchased 4,709 bitcoins for $50 million, representing 1% of the firm’s total assets.

“We believe that bitcoin has the potential to be a more ubiquitous currency in the future,” Square Chief Financial Officer Amrita Ahuja said. “For a company that is building products based on a more inclusive future, this investment is a step on that journey.”

Cryptocurrency investors reacted positively to Square news, and the price of bitcoin rose 2.4%, to $10.899.83, as of 10 p.m. EDT.

Photo: Office of Public Affairs/Wikimedia Commons

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