Congresswoman Maxine Waters (D-CA), chairwoman of the US House of Congress’ Financial Services Committee, announced on Sunday that her concerns over Facebook’s plans to create its Libra cryptocurrency and corresponding network were not assuaged during a meeting with Swiss officials who said that they would regulate it.
Waters and her committee reportedly met with representatives from Switzerland’s State Secretariat for International Financial Matters, the Federal Data Protection and Information Commissioner, the Financial Market Supervisory Authority, as well as Swiss legislators who were “helpful in understanding the status, complexity, and magnitude of Facebook’s plans.”
However, “while I appreciate the time that the Swiss government officials took to meet with us, my concerns remain with allowing a large tech company to create a privately controlled, alternative global currency,” Waters said in a statement on the Sunday following the meetings. Waters led a delegation of representatives from the House Financial Services Committee to meet with Swiss Regulators in Switzerland last week.
Maxine Waters: Switzerland “has a history of being a monetary haven for criminals and shady corporations”
The decision to meet with the Swiss regulators was made following the revelation that neither Facebook nor the Libra project had been in contact with them regarding the founding of the Libra Association within Switzerland.
During a hearing held in the US House of Representatives on July 16, David Marcus, the head of the Libra project, claimed that “for the purposes of data and privacy protections, the Swiss Federal Data Protection and Information Commissioner (FDPIC) will be the Libra Association’s privacy regulator.”
This morning I am leading @FSCDems in taking on Facebook. Too much power, too much data and too many excuses. Facebook wants to lead a #BigTechTakeover? Nope, not on my watch!
— Maxine Waters (@RepMaxineWaters) July 17, 2019
Less than 24 hours after Marcus made this claim, however, FDPIC spokesperson Hugo Wyler told CNBC that any member of the Libra project had not approached his organization.
During the Congressional hearing on Libra that was held in July, Waters and a number of other congresspeople questioned why Facebook wanted to establish Facebook in Switzerland given the country’s past association with money laundering. “This venture is slated to be based in Switzerland, which has a history of being a monetary haven for criminals and shady corporations,” Waters said during her opening address.
However, Marcus insisted, again and again, the choice of Switzerland had nothing to do with evading regulation and that Facebook’s goal in choosing the country was to establish the organization as an international effort. “We would like Libra to be a digital, global currency, and as a result, to be one unit of digital currency for the whole world. This is why we believe this was the right approach,” he explained.
Waters also reiterated her request that Facebook place a moratorium on the development of Libra during the hearing: “Will you stop dancing around this question and commit here in this committee … to a moratorium until Congress enacts an appropriate legal framework to ensure that Libra and Calibra do what you claim it will do?”,” she asked David Marcus, the project’s head.
Waters originally called for a moratorium on the project in June, before the hearing was held.