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UK Police Seize $ 160 Million In Cryptocurrency In Money Laundering Investigation

By on June 25, 2021 0

Top line

British detectives seized around £ 114million (around $ 158million) in cryptocurrency as part of an ongoing money laundering investigation, UK Metropolitan Police ad Thursday, marking the largest ever seizure of crypto assets in the UK and one of the largest in the world.


The force, which did not disclose which cryptocurrencies had been confiscated, said the seizure was carried out by detectives from its Economic Crime Command “on the basis of intelligence received on the transfer of criminal assets.”

Criminals must hide the origin of ill-gotten money or they risk being caught by law enforcement, explained Detective Agent Joe Ryan, a process known as money laundering.

While “cash remains king,” Assistant Deputy Commissioner Graham McNulty said advancements in technology have led some criminals to switch to “more sophisticated methods” of laundering money, such as using crypto -coins.

The risks of financial crime have become a strong motivation for regulators across the world to strengthen their scrutiny of digital assets and represent a significant barrier to their acceptance by the general public, despite growing demand.

The singular transport of cryptocurrency is worth more than double the amount of money the force took out of the hands of criminals in the 2020/21 fiscal year.

Key context

While the majority of crypto transactions are legitimate, the anonymous and international nature of digital currencies makes them attractive to criminals. Money bleaching is often presented as a concern, just as tax evasion, terrorism, and Drug traffic. Cryptocurrencies are also the payment of choice for ransomware hackers, including the recent Colonial Pipeline attack. The Justice Department scared the crypto market when it announced that it had seized $ 2.3 million in bitcoin as part of its investigation into the incident and that regulators raised the possibility of harder regulations in the United States to deal with the problems that cryptocurrency users may hide their credentials.

Large number

$ 1 billion. How much was grasped by the US government in 2013 as part of Silk Road, a dark web market. It is the largest cryptocurrency seizure in the world.

Surprising fact

British police were surprised to find a bitcoin farm when they raided a warehouse near Birmingham in May, expecting to find a cannabis farm. The operation siphoned off electricity from the grid and gave off a lot of heat, usually indicative of a cannabis farm.

Further reading

Crypto Markets Crash Again After DOJ Seizes $ 2.3 Million Bitcoin Ransom (Forbes)

As ransomware hackers rely on millions of extorted money, US military urged to hack (Forbes)

Police make biggest cryptocurrency seizure ever in UK, confiscating £ 114million (Sky)