In-depth investigation leads to another massive bitcoin bust in London
Earlier this month, the Metropolitan Police in London seized bitcoin worth £180 million in an ongoing money-laundering investigation.
According to The Guardian, this is the largest local confiscation of bitcoin linked to crime to date and one of the largest worldwide.
This follows shortly after a £114 million seizure in June 2021, potentially from the same international money laundering ring. The Met’s Economic Crime Command was responsible for the investigation and subsequent sequestration of the funds. At the time, a 39-year-old woman was arrested on suspicion of money laundering, and it’s reported that she’s been interviewed under caution regarding the latest seizure but has since been bailed.
Deputy Commissioner Joe Ryan elaborated -
“Less than a month ago, we successfully seized £114m in cryptocurrency. Our investigation since then has been complex and wide-ranging. We have worked hard to trace this money and identify the criminality it may be linked to.
“Today’s seizure is another significant landmark in this investigation which will continue for months to come as we home in on those at the centre of this suspected money-laundering operation.”
Since its inception, bitcoin has - unfairly - been touted as the “currency of criminals”. Even Metro’s Deputy Assistant Commissioner, Graham McNulty, reminds us:
“While cash still remains king in the criminal world, as digital platforms develop, we’re increasingly seeing organised criminals using cryptocurrency to launder their dirty money.”
These latest seizures of “crime-stained bitcoin” are simply another reminder that bitcoin transactions aren’t anonymous, but rather pseudonymous. Bitcoin technology was never developed to enable criminal activity, but rather to provide a public record of truth with traceable evidence.
These characteristics, combined with a deeper understanding and more advanced tracking mechanisms, allow authorities to bring perpetrators to justice, and we can expect to see more stringent regulation and further seizures and arrests to come.
Only last week, the European Committee (being the EU executive), proposed tighter laws around cryptocurrency transactions, announcing that firms that transfer bitcoin or other cryptoassets must collect details of senders and recipients. This, in an effort to assist authorities to crack down on dirty money.
Already a requirement of traditional financial institutions, the announcement shows the intention of authorities to expand traditional regulation to the cryptocurrency space.
As supporters of Bitcoin technology being harnessed for the greater good of humanity, we - as a business - welcome more formalised regulation around bitcoin and cryptocurrency, as it signals authorities accepting a new form of money that’s not going to simply disappear. We’re committed to working with and alongside regulators to make sure that we act within the parameters of the law, while simultaneously helping people build their financial sovereignty.