Federal Employees Will Have to Begin Disclosing Their Cryptocurrency Holdings

June 19, 2018 12:26 PM , Updated June 26, 2018 3:48 PM
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Gold coin with the bitcoin symbol sitting atop a blurred scattering of other gold coins

A new memo from the Office of Government Ethics (OGE) says that federal employees in the Executive Branch will have to begin disclosing their holdings of virtual currencies on their public or confidential financial disclosure report.

The memo states:

OGE does not consider virtual currency a “real” currency or legal tender. Executive branch employees are therefore required to report their holdings of virtual currency on their public or confidential financial disclosure report, subject to applicable reporting thresholds for property held for investment or the production of income. Further, the reporting and conflict of interest principles set forth herein apply equally to other digital assets, such as “coins” or “tokens” received in connection with initial coin offerings or issued ordistributed using distributed ledger or blockchain technology.

OGE says in the memo that it issued the guidance because of the surge in use of virtual currencies. It also notes that it may need to issue additional future guidance “as the nature of virtual currency becomes better defined.”

OGE added that cryptocurrency can create a potential conflict of interest for those who own it just like other property held for investment. Regarding conflict of interest, the memo also adds:

It [virtual currency] is not subject to the conflict of interest exemptions in 5 C.F.R. part 2640. Agency ethics officials should therefore analyze whether their employees’ official duties would have an effect on the value of their virtual currency, just as they would any other property held for investment or the production of income. They should also alert their employees to the potential conflict of interest risk posed by ownership of virtual currency.

A copy of the memo is included below.

OGE Virtual Currency Reporting Requirements

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Ian Smith is one of the co-founders of FedSmith.com. He enjoys writing about current topics that affect the federal workforce.