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Executive Branch Employees Must Disclose Virtual Currency Holdings, Says OGE



De Silva

Got bitcoin? Or Ethereum? Or Zcash? The Office of Government Ethics keeps an eye on potential conflicts of interest.

At certain thresholds, employees of the executive branch must report their virtual currency holdings, according to guidance released on June 18, 2018, by the Office of Government Ethics (OGE). Those thresholds include reporting requirements "if the value of the virtual currency holding exceeded $1,000 at the end of the reporting period or if the income produced by the virtual currency holding exceeded $200 during the reporting period."

When filing, employees must identify the name of the associated virtual currency and which exchange they are holding it on, if applicable. The standards apply "equally to other digital assets, such as 'coins' or 'tokens' received in connection with initial coin offerings [ICOs] or issued or distributed using distributed ledger or blockchain technology."

The OGE's acting director and general counsel, David J. Apol, wrote that the agency "has determined that virtual currency is 'property held ... for investment or the production of income' for purposes of public and confidential financial disclosure, pursuant to the Ethics in Government Act (EIGA)." He clarified that the "OGE does not consider virtual currency a 'real' currency or legal tender."

Putting aside the complications of commodity versus security classifications (or other potential regulatory frameworks), the OGE guidance is a necessary (but likely insufficient) oversight mechanism. Ultimately, these standards rely heavily on voluntary disclosures and the good faith of government employees.

Talk about the decentralization of trust.

Matthew De Silva

Matthew has a passion for law and technology. He graduated from Georgetown University, where he studied international economics and music. Matthew enjoys biking and listening to tech podcasts. He lives in Los Angeles.

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