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UK Police makes the largest cryptocurrency seizure worth £144 mn

By Joy Dumasia

June 28, 2021

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Detectives investigating money laundering in the U.K. seized £114 million (US$158.8 million) in cryptocurrency, the largest seizure of crypto ever in the U.K. and one of the largest in the world.

The seizure was carried out by specialist detectives from the Met’s Economic Crime Command on intelligence back on transferring criminal assets.

The singular haul of cryptocurrency is worth more than double the amount of cash the force took out of the hands of criminals in the 2020/21 financial year.

Financial crime risks have become a strong motivator for regulators worldwide to bolster their scrutiny of digital assets and represent a significant obstacle to their mainstream acceptance, despite growing demand.

While most crypto transactions are legitimate, digital currencies’ anonymous and international nature makes them attractive to criminals. Money laundering is often touted as a concern, tax fraud, terrorism, and drug trafficking. Cryptocurrencies are also the payment of choice for ransom, including the recent Colonial Pipeline attack.

Detective Constable Joe Ryan said: “Criminals need to legitimise their money; otherwise, it risks being seized by law enforcement. The proceeds of crime are almost always laundered to hide the origin, but by disrupting the flow of funds before they are reinvested, we can make London an incredibly difficult place for criminals to operate.”

Deputy Assistant Commissioner Graham McNulty said: “Every single part of the Met is working to reduce violence on the streets of London as an absolute priority, this includes our financial investigators. Cash remains king, but as technology and online platforms develop, some are moving to more sophisticated methods of laundering their profits. But, we have highly trained officers and specialist units working day and night to remain one step ahead.”

Recently, IBS Intelligence reported that GeenBox, an emerging FinTech company leveraging proprietary blockchain security to build customized payment solutions, announced partnering with Elliptic, a leading provider of cryptoasset risk management and blockchain analytics solutions, to implement anti-money laundering (AML) monitoring systems for cryptoassets.

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