Treasury Office Seeks Tools to Trace Cryptocurrency Linked to Sanctions List


The department’s Office of Global Targeting is looking for multiple tools to track the flow of virtual currencies and user behaviors.

A Treasury Department unit aims to tap commercial, online tools for tracking virtual currency transactions, such as those involving Bitcoin, recorded on a blockchain.

Within its Office of Foreign Assets Control or OFAC, which carries out economics- and trade-based sanctions, is the Office of Global Targeting, or OGT. That group captures intelligence on and builds cases against individuals, entities or organizations that might appear on the Specially Designated Nationals List and generally blocked from conducting business with Americans. 

According to a recently published sources sought notice, OGT wants vendor-provided solutions to analyze and track blockchain-based transactions to gather attribution information on involved parties that are under consideration to be put on the SDN List. Entries on that list have generally been formally deemed detrimental to U.S. national security.

“These tools will be used specifically to support cyber sanctions implementation undertaken by OFAC,” officials wrote. “More than one tool is preferred, in order to corroborate attribution of cyber actors, sufficient to meet legal requirements for use as evidence in OFAC designations determinations.”

Cryptocurrency is transmitted via a decentralized network. As blockchain technology evolves, it’s getting tougher for those who aim to monitor transactions but it’s possible with the right tools. And that’s what OFAC appears to intend to do.

Other federal and Treasury entities have explored cryptocurrency tracking and digital ledger technology-related tools over the last few years. Still, a department spokesperson told Nextgov they could not offer any commentary on whether OFAC has applied virtual currency-tracing mechanisms before. 

“Treasury does not comment on procurement processes,” they further added.

The sources sought notice lists several features the department would want to see, including transaction flow mapping, analysis of user behavior and more.

“OFAC needs one to two tools that provide access to five users each, either as individual licenses or one concurrent license,” officials wrote.

The deadline for interested providers to submit capability statements is May 25.