Bitcoin conspiracy theorists have long suspected the U.S. government, among others, would like to shut down bitcoin.
Bitcoin’s first decade has seen its price explode, making early adopters overnight millionaires, and prompting some of the world’s biggest technology companies to create their own versions of bitcoin.
Now, it’s been revealed federal prosecutor-turned bitcoin and cryptocurrency expert Katie Haun was asked to look into “shutting down” bitcoin by her boss at the U.S. attorney’s office in 2012.
“They said ‘we have this perfect assignment for you’–there’s this thing called bitcoin and we need to investigate it,” Haun told CNBC in a wide-ranging interview, adding a colleague asked her to take down bitcoin.
“That was the first time I’d ever heard of bitcoin.”
Any serious attempt made by the U.S. Department of Justice to shut down bitcoin inevitably came to naught, with Haun saying, “it would have been akin to saying ‘let’s go prosecute cash.'”
Haun, who is now the first female general partner at U.S. venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz and co-heads its $350 million cryptocurrency fund, has worked closely with social media giant Facebook in development of its troubled libra cryptocurrency project.
Earlier this year, U.S. president Trump sent shockwaves throughout the bitcoin and cryptocurrency industry when he tweeted a vicious attack on Facebook’s bitcoin rival plans, branding it and bitcoin “unregulated crypto assets.”
Others in the U.S. government were quick to tow the line, with U.S. Treasury secretary Steven Mnuchin adding his voice to the assault on bitcoin, Facebook’s planned Libra crypto project, and other cryptocurrencies, warning they pose a “national security” risk to the country.
Elsewhere, Apple chief executive Tim Cook has warned companies against creating their own cryptocurrencies.
“What we heard with libra were the same criticisms [I’d first heard about bitcoin]” Haun said.