The chiefs of the American financial regulatory agencies have received letters from three Republican members of the House of Representatives Financial Services Committee asking for information on potential coordinated actions against companies that deal in digital assets. The letters are a follow-up to ones that the MPs had issued to the same addresses.
The letters, dated April 25, were sent to the heads of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC), Jerome Powell of the Federal Reserve System, and Michael J. Hsu, the acting comptroller of the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC). Each letter included a unique set of requests to view the agencies’ records, but the letters all had the same wording.
The letters started out by bringing up the alleged Operation Choke Point of the Obama Administration, which incited banks to refuse service to specific kinds of businesses. “Today, we are witnessing a revival of coordinated action by the federal prudential regulators to stifle innovation in the United States,” they concluded. There is no clearer illustration than the ecosystem for digital assets.
The FDIC’s letter from April 2022, the OCC Interpretive Letter 1179, and the joint statement of the three agencies issued in January were used as precedents by the authors of the letters. “Digital asset activity is not inherently risky,” they assert, despite the “run-of-the-mill fraud” observed in the cryptocurrency sector. The actions of the Fed, FDIC, and OCC, when considered collectively, “do not appear to be in reaction to recent events or the result of a sudden desire to protect financial institutions from risky behavior, but rather suggest a coordinated strategy to de-bank the digital asset ecosystem in the United States,” says another.
The authors, Reps. French Hill, Bill Huizenga, and Patrick McHenry, demand non-public records pertaining to interactions between staff members of each of the institutions they oversee and each of the agencies they address regarding the papers cited.