Trump trea­sury chief wants mar­i­juana money in banks

The Pak Banker - - FRONT PAGE - NEW YORK -AP

The Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion's top fis­cal of­fi­cial ap­peared to voice sup­port for let­ting mar­i­juana busi­nesses store their prof­its in banks.

"I as­sure you that we don't want bags of cash," Trea­sury Sec­re­tary Steven Mnuchin tes­ti­fied on Tues­day dur­ing an ap­pear­ance be­fore the House Fi­nan­cial Ser­vices Com­mit­tee. "We want to make sure that we can col­lect our nec­es­sary taxes and other things."

Mnuchin, in a se­ries of re­sponses to ques­tions from law­mak­ers who raised con­cerns about the pub­lic safety im­pli­ca­tions of pre­vent­ing cannabis busi­nesses from ac­cess­ing banks and forc­ing them to op­er­ate on an all-cash ba­sis, said the Trea­sury Depart­ment is cur­rently con- sider­ing how to deal with the is­sue.

In 2014, un­der the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion, the depart­ment's Fi­nan­cial Crimes En­force­ment Net­work (FinCEN) is­sued guid­ance that has al­lowed banks to open ac­counts for mar­i­juana grow­ers, pro­ces­sors and re­tail­ers with­out run­ning afoul of fed­eral reg­u­la­tors.

But last month, US At­tor­ney Gen­eral Jeff Ses­sions re­scinded a broader pol­icy from the for­mer ad­min­is­tra­tion that had gen­er­ally cleared the way for states to im­ple­ment their own cannabis laws with­out Jus­tice Depart­ment in­ter­fer­ence. Ses­sions' move has led to fears that the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion may tear up the bank­ing memo as well.

Last week, a top Trea­sury of­fi­cial wrote in a let­ter to law­mak­ers that the depart­ment is "con­sult­ing with law en­force­ment" about whether to main­tain the guid­ance for de­pos­i­tory in­sti­tu­tions. Last month, a Mnuchin deputy tes­ti­fied at a Sen­ate hear­ing that the bank­ing doc­u­ment re­mains in ef­fect while the ad­min­is­tra­tion weighs whether to re­voke it.

At the Tues­day hear­ing, Mnuchin con­firmed that the depart­ment is "re­view­ing the ex­ist­ing guid­ance." But he clar­i­fied that he doesn't want to re­scind it with­out hav­ing an al­ter­nate pol­icy in place to ad­dress pub­lic safety con­cerns.

"The in­tent is not to take it down with­out a re­place­ment that can deal with the cur­rent sit­u­a­tion," he said.

Rep. Brad Sher­man (DCA) told Mnuchin that sim­ply delet­ing the bank­ing memo "would re­ally make it bet­ter for armed rob­bers in my com­mu­nity, be­cause there'd be huge amounts of cash at the lo­cal mar­i­juana dis­pen­sary." Reps. Denny Heck and Ed Perl­mut­ter also raised ques­tions about the is­sue.

"We specif­i­cally haven't taken it down," Mnuchin said of the 2014 memo. "We are look­ing at what Jus­tice has done. And again, as I said, we're sen­si­tive to the is­sue of deal­ing with the pub­lic safety is­sue and also mak­ing sure that the IRS and oth­ers have ways of col­lect­ing taxes with­out tak­ing in cash."

In re­sponse to com­ments about pend­ing con­gres­sional leg­is­la­tion to ad­dress cannabis busi­nesses' ac­cess to fi­nan­cial ser­vices, Mnuchin pledged to con­sult with White House Of­fice of Man­age­ment and Bud­get Di­rec­tor Mick Mul­vaney, who as a mem­ber of Congress pre­vi­ously spon­sored a sim­i­lar bill.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Pakistan

© PressReader. All rights reserved.