CHEYENNE, WYOMING – Caitlin Long does not “have direct evidence” that the U.S. federal government coordinated an attack on Silicon Valley Bank (SBV) and others to bring down the cryptocurrency sector, but she is nevertheless convinced that the Biden administration is harboring an “anti-Crypto wing”, which together with the Federal Reserve, conspired to do so as part of a wider plot to neuter the digital asset industry.
“It’s all going to come out. It is in our lawsuit filing,” Long told CoinDesk in a recent interview. The founder and CEO of Custodia Bank, a cryptocurrency and digital asset bank formed under Wyoming’s Special Purpose Depository Institutions(SPDI) charter, Long admits that the crypto space is “filled with fraud, filled with criminals” and that “huge swaths of [the crypto industry] still need to burn down,” while decrying efforts of the federal banking regulators targeting predatory lending practices.
A former gubernatorial appointee to Wyoming’s Blockchain Task Force, Long is also currently listed as a member of the state legislature’s Select Committee on Blockchain, Financial Technology and Digital Innovation Technology, which has been spearheading the state’s pioneering role in the deployment of tokenomics-friendly legislation, including blockchain-based digital authentication and filing systems.
Deliberately appealing to the ‘small government’, Libertarian demographic that is typically attracted to cryptocurrency spaces, Long’s rhetoric aligns with the hard right elements of Wyoming’s turbulent political scene, which has become increasingly polarized as MAGA Republicans, officially convened as the Wyoming Freedom Caucus back in January, clashwith their more moderate party counterparts in the lead up to next year’s general election.
Poised to push Wyoming as far right as possible, the Wyoming Freedom Caucus is an arm of a D.C.-based non-profit co-founded by Trump’s former chief of staff, Mark Meadows, and funded by billionaire conservative interests like the Kochs, through its parent organization, the Conservative Partnership Institute (CPI).
Conveniently ignoring the fact that the collapse of SBV and other handful of banks caught up in the most recent financial debacle was a direct result of regulatory roll-backs by the Trump administration itself, Long joins the political shell game that keeps Americans at their throats and promotes familiar narratives pushed by crypto ‘finfluencers’ to drive digital currency adoption as a hedge against ‘risky’ fiat money and government overreach.
Operation Choke Point 2.0
Long has been making the rounds on crypto-focused media selling the idea of a federally coordinated war on crypto, which has been christened Operation Choke Point 2.0 by industry advocates. Custodia is at the center of this media campaign, serving as the linchpin of the case against the bank regulators after the Federal Reserve declined the crypto bank’s application to become a member earlier this year.
Operation Choke Point refers to an initiative undertaken by the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) in 2013 to protect consumers from predatory payday lenders and similar high risk industries in the consumer loan sector. Many of its tactics were modeled on the prosecution of the online poker industry through the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA), recently covered by Silicon Icarus.
Republican Congressman and Trump’s abortive nominee to the US Trade and Development Agency (USTDA), Darrell Issa, led a congressional inquiry into Choke Point as chairman of the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform in 2014. The report made many of the same arguments being put forward by Long and others regarding the current friction between federal authorities and the crypto sector.
Namely, they both accuse the government of arbitrary enforcement guided by political considerations and of generally impinging on the “free market”. Among the main talking points Long uses in virtually every media appearance, when deploying the narrative of a Choke Point 2.0, is the notion that the U.S. Federal Reserve is intent on crushing cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin and Ethereum because it wants to impose its own Central Bank Digital Currency (CBDC) system.
This ideological nothing burger is a favorite among the finfluencer circuit, especially those whose content includes salacious tabloid fodder like Epstein flight manifests, Klaus Schwab memes and other alt media-generated villains billed as part of a global conspiracy to stop ‘Murican “liberty”. Any serious look into the matter unambiguously shows that CBDCs and cryptocurrencies are intended to co-exist and form part of the digital fences being built around us.
Caitlin Long knows where her bank’s bread is buttered and maintaining a client base requires her to play all the hits. From the myth of the perpetually collapsing dollar to the evil specter of Fed-issued CBDC’s, Long is perfectly positioned to spread these politically useful and profitable marketing gimmicks from the state of Wyoming, which has emerged as one of the nation’s most important centers for the crypto and blockchain industries.
Official home of a war criminal who once infamously stated that the American way of life was not negotiable in the context of millions Iraqis killed by the Pentagon’s war machine, Wyoming has drifted even further to the right since and boasts a new cadre of MAGA-inspired legislators like Freedom Caucus member, Chip Neiman, who “had flippin’ no idea” what he was doing when he got elected to Wyoming’s state government as a representative for Hulett in 2020.
Hulett, a small rural town next to Devil’s Tower in the northeast corner of the state, is the original headquarters of Hulett Bancorp., a.k.a., Summit National Bank – a tiny bank with no more than five branches, that used to serve the limited financial needs of ranchers. The bank’s majority shares are now owned by a holding company doing business as Mode Eleven, whose C-suite is staffed by former Deutsche Bank and IBM Blockchain executives.
Its board of directors, shared between the bank and the holding company, include Russian investment banker Viktor Remsha, who was described as the founder of a “financial services company helping members of the Russian mafia to legalize their assets overseas” in a deck of “virtual mafia” cards that appeared on the Internet just as his firm was beginning to seek business partners in the United States. Remsha sued for defamation.
Since September 2022, Kalin Metodiev has also been on the bank’s board after Bulgarian cryptolender Nexo bought a minority stake in the financial institution. As covered by Silicon Icarus in the ongoing investigative series about Nexo, Metodiev is currently being held by Bulgarian authorities in connection with that country’s investigation into the company.
The freshman MAGA congressman Chip Neiman from Hulett, has described his maiden tenure as “scary”. Shortly after being called to meet with Donald Trump’s hand-picked candidate against Liz Cheney, whom he easily defeated, Neiman’s political ascendency has been meteoric. Currently serving as Wyoming House Majority Floor Leader, the Freedom Caucus member is already being floated as potential gubernatorial candidate.
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